For a decade, Ecclesiastical Insurance Ireland has been the proud sponsor of the Wexford Festival Opera Volunteer Programme as a Corporate Leader. In honor of this milestone, a project has been launched with the Festival to celebrate its longstanding volunteers, capturing their memories of the event which spans over 70 years.
Wexford Festival Opera has over nearly 400 volunteers who give their time during the year and Festival, taking on roles which are far reaching in their variety and would make the Festival near impossible to stage if not for their time and dedication. A recent online survey conducted with the volunteer base found that a large portion are 65+, meaning that this volunteering outlet provides a welcome outlet for those who might be retired from professional roles. This base provides a huge amount of skill and expertise that may be otherwise lost. The Festival provides a space for people to connect, celebrate together and becomes a second family for many.
Within the volunteer base there is also a huge tradition of generational volunteerism, and as profiled within the video memories, the tradition of volunteering is often passed down through families. The average volunteer for the Festival gives between 10 and 30 hours of their time and most shared that they also volunteer for educational organisations, children’s charities, and homelessness causes.
In the video David Lane, Managing Director of Ecclesiastical Ireland, shares how Ecclesiastical has been operating in Ireland for over 40 years, working in the insurance sectors of education, faith, charity and heritage. Ecclesiastical are part of the Benefact Group, a group of financial services businesses who give all available profits back to charity and community organisations.
Throughout the series of videos, we hear from Eleanor White, head of the Festival Volunteer Committee, Ted Howlin, who will have volunteered for the Festival for 50 years in 2024, Eithne Scallon and her son Peter, Eithne was the first company secretary in the 1960s where she met her husband Séan Scallon, who later became a Festival Chairman, as did their son, Peter.
We also hear from David Maguire, who has volunteered with the Festival since he was a teenager, he now juggles this with his day job managing the Wexford Credit Union and volunteering with the RNLI. There are also some memories shared from a family of 3 generations, Phil Lynch, her daughter Elaine McMahon and Elaine’s son Michael McMahon. Sasha Bratkova, who came to Wexford from Ukraine at the start of the war, also shares with us how volunteering with the Festival helped her integrate into the community.
Wexford Festival Opera and Ecclesiastical hopes that these videos which will be shared in the lead up and throughout the Festival highlight the vital importance of volunteers within the arts industry and encourages future volunteers nationally.