Let it out six inches, take it in six inches, that needs to go up, that needs to go down, no these are the words from a song from one of the Variety Theatre Ashburton shows, but they are the words that are familiar to Yvonne Harrison, one of the people behind the scenes of the Variety Theatre Ashburton and the Ashburton Event Centre. Yvonne is a Volunteering Mid & South Canterbury and the Hotel Ashburton Volunteer of the Month.
The year was 1998 when Yvonne got involved in the Preforming Arts Trust as they set about raising funds to bring the Braided Rivers Trust Event Centre to life. Yvonne was willing to give anything ago to raise funds from guiding the behind-the-scenes tours of the theatre to riding a bike at the gym.
Volunteering has been a big part of Yvonne’s life along with family and over 50 years nursing including 29 years of working the night shift at Rosebank. Yvonne volunteered with things her three children were involved in like the kindergarten and did this for 17 years. She said if she is part of something she ‘likes to be in boots and all”
Her involvement with the Variety Theatre Ashburton and the Ashburton Event Centre has lead to her family also getting involved in fact in “Born Free” there were five of her family involved.
Her volunteering with the Event Centres has her in a front of the house role, she is an usher and she said they are always needing more volunteers to help in this role and if people are interested the can contact the Event Centre. While Yvonne does get to see some of the show while ushering the usher also keep an eye on the audience to ensure there are no behaviour issues to deal with all medical events to attend to. Yvonne is responsible for organising the roster of volunteers to act as ushers at shows, funeral and other events, it’s a big job especially at this time when volunteer can call in sick or needing to isolate.
Yvonne has attended over 90% of the events held at the Events Centre. Yvonne’s is in a crucial role as she and her team of volunteer ushers ensure guests have an enjoyable experience. As well as being responsible for organising sufficient ushers for each event and ensuring the audience is seated in time for the event to start, Yvonne liaises with stage management and the technical team, providing clearance for the event to commence.
Yvonne also assists with catering done at the theatre, this could be sandwiches after a show or her much sort after dish that the set-up crews ask for. She also assists with the cleaning.
As well as these roles Yvonne has been the wardrobe mistress for many shows over many years and is still one of the people who make or alter the costumes for shows such as the beaded dresses in “Born Free”. Yvonne loves sewing and is extremely good at it.
Her volunteering isn’t limited to the Event Centre and Variety Theatre Ashburton, she also volunteers in their “Party People” shop washing, mending, and ironing the 100s of outfits they hire out. Party People welcome volunteers to help – their shop is open Wednesday 12-2.30pm and 5-7pm and Thursdays 5-7pm. When Yvonne isn’t in one of these places she could be found packing groceries for the St Vincent De Paul Foodbank, knitting for babies at the Ashburton or Middlemore (Auckland) Hospitals, looking after the Altar linen at her church or volunteering in other ways at her church.
She has been a Trust member at the Ashburton Event Centre since 1998, Front of the House co-ordinator since 2008. She has held the role of President of the Variety Theatre Ashburton twice and been awarded Life Membership of the Variety Theatre.