Celebrating our Super Volunteers

We have enjoyed highlighting some of the fantastic work of our Volunteers in our 'Celebrating our Super Volunteers' mailings throughout National Volunteers' Week and have a round up of all of our nominated Volunteers below.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank each and every volunteer who contriubutes to the Festival Movement, providing performance opportunities to thousands of amateur performers each year. 

We are constantly inspired by your energy, dedication, commitment and goodwill.


Margaret McIntyre

Workington Musical Festival

Nominated by Jackie Eve; Vice Chair & Christine Boothroyd; Treasurer

Margaret first became involved in the festival movement as a child, helping her father who was a committee member of Workington Musical Festival. She joined   the committee herself 50 years ago and became chairman in 2005.

She is always proactive and open to new ideas to help our festival progress and remain current in these modern times.

Our festival consists of a six-day dance festival, incorporating a heat of Miss Dance and two full days of TDCI Championships, followed by a four day music and verse section, and Margaret cheerfully puts in a twelve hour shift on all of these days.

She fully supports our Northern Regional Forum meetings, becoming Forum Secretary 5 years ago. Margaret was integral in setting up the first Northern Regional Championships in 2019.

We feel her enthusiasm and work ethic qualifies her as a Super Volunteer.


Karen Cousins

Mrs Sunderland Festival

Nominated by Andrew Padmore; Music Adjudicator

On several occasions I have adjudicated both the choral classes and vocal classes at the Mrs Sunderland Festival in Huddersfield, and have been so impressed by the welcome and efficiency of Karen. The booking process is meticulous in detail and I have always been kept informed of any changes in schedules or arrangements by post and/or telephone. She is a model of efficiency and organisation.

Karen is always calm and welcoming to both adjudicators and competitors, and is clearly respected and liked by the other volunteers/organisers. She is always cheerful and with a smile on her face. I also remember Karen entering and conducting her choirs in many festivals before volunteering at Mrs Sunderland Festival, so her support for the festival movement goes back a long time.


Kathleen O'Regan

Cork Feis

Nominated by Timothy McCarthy; Festival Organiser

Kathleen has been with the Feis for over 35 years and is the public face of our event.  She is the one everyone goes to, especially teachers, parents and performers, when they need help and support.  Kathleen has worked as the check-in steward and so is well known to all our participants.  It is such a joy to see their faces light up when Kathleen is on duty, as it gives them confidence and assurance for what can be a very difficult day.  So many times, teachers and parents will say “I am so glad you are on duty” or often when they telephone, Kathleen is the one they will ask for.  This is a very important and key role in a Festival.  We all need that reassurance and to have that one person you know will be there creates a sense of calm and security. She has also been known to resolve some issues adjudicators may have too!

Kathleen has worked in our Festival office for the majority of her time at the Feis.  She is always ready to step in when there is a gap in the schedule and most importantly ready to take charge when the Feis Director is away (as he frequently tends to be!)  Continuity, security, regularity and familiarity are essential to any good Festival and Kathleen O’Regan, Cork Feis superstar, does that for us.

Thank you, Kathleen.


Marjon Stephens

Woking Festival of Dance

Nominated by Steve Pirson; Festival Organiser

Woking Festival of Dance nominates, as our Super Volunteer, Mrs Marjon Stephens. Like so many others, Marjon started off as a “dance mum”, ferrying her very talented daughter Tanya to and from her dance lessons and rehearsals and, in this way, she was introduced to the world of dance.

When our Festival started in 1997, Tanya was one of our first competitors and Marjon visited the Festival for the first time; little could she have known where this early support would lead her and us.

Over the years, she has worked indefatigably in many areas and her support is always most generously given. She has occupied many different roles within the Festival. She is always cheerful, helpful and out-going and nothing is ever too much trouble. Marjon is one of those people who provide solutions, not problems; she is always thinking ahead and is ready to bring forward new ideas and insights. She works throughout the year for the Festival, not just during our time in the theatre, undertaking several challenging roles including taking care of and keeping track of our trophies.

Marjon is the pivot and the mainstay of our backstage operations. She is never less than on top of the backstage situation, where she is our stage manager, our main first-aider and a fully trained and licensed matron who worked on the Harry Potter films. And how she manages to juggle the volunteers’ rota is a complete mystery! No one better deserves the title Super Volunteer.


Alison Brookes & Steve Penistone-Smith

Nominated by Carol Porter; Festival Organiser

These two people have been alongside me for the last 25+ years at both Welwyn Hatfield Festival, Royston and North Herts Festival and many other festivals in our area.

Steve Penistone-Smith

Anything you ask Steve to do is no trouble; from setting up, backstage, announcing, playing CD’s, you name it, he’s there and we couldn’t run festivals without him. He is the biggest asset to the dance world.

Alison Brookes

Alison also is the best volunteer at the above festivals, and again many others in our area. She is funny and the children absolutely love her for her quirkiness and for always being there for them with her kindness and assurance.



Lynne Clarke

Kingston upon Hull Musical Festival

Nominated by Shelagh Staniforth; Chair

The Kingston upon Hull Festival first opened its doors in 1906 and apart from 1940 – 1943, and this year, it has been held annually ever since. I am very sure that this incredible achievement would not have been attained without the wonderful volunteers that have given up their time over the years.

I took over the reins of the dance section fifteen years ago and, although both of my daughters had competed in the festival, I did not realise what a big undertaking it was. I was incredibly lucky to have Lynne Clarke onboard. Lynne has been a volunteer for over 30 years, and became my ‘second in command’, my advisor and an exceptionally good friend. 

Lynne oversees the volunteers, prepares rotas, and undertakes many other duties. The festival runs for 7 days and Lynne is there from 8am until 9pm every day. 

We are incredibly lucky to have all our brilliant volunteers, but without Lynne’s help and support over the years, I am not sure that the festival or I would have survived.


Eileen Johnston

The Banbridge Performing Arts Festival

Nominated by Frank Mulligan BEM

Eileen has been connected to the festival since its inception in 1975. She entered her children and then joined the committee in 1979. In 2019 she received her 40 year badge from Steven Roberts, Federation Chairman.

During her 42 years, Eileen has never missed a festival or conference and is a regular attendee at the Northern Ireland Festival Forum meetings.

Eileen would be the first to volunteer if a steward was unable to fulfil his / her session at the festival and is a constant support to performers, parents and other committee members.

Eileen holds the office of Hospitality Officer and has collected and transported adjudicators to and from the festival. No task would be too small or too big. Eileen has a wonderful generous spirit and is a real asset to our festival.


Mairead Richards

Ballymena Festival

Nominated by Stanley Hughes; Festival Chairman

Mairead is a long serving and highly esteemed member of our festival committee with a passion for the Festival Movement and its role in promoting confidence in the lives of young people as they perform in their chosen category. Long before her preparation and fine tuning of the instrumental music syllabus and awards, to the end of all those performances, Mairead thinks ‘outside the box’. Nothing will escape her attention that will ultimately benefit the performers.

We were unable to hold our festival this year so to stimulate interest in music performance during the lockdown, Mairead spent some considerable time preparing a submission for an Arts Council Grant towards a vocal and instrumental video competition. Her submission was successful, but the competition did not materialise due to the additional costs and logistics which would have been involved. 

Mairead is however now concentrating on contacting past performers to obtain written and video accounts of their experiences of performing at our festival and their advancement to date in their musical career. These accounts will be made available on our festival website. 

In summing up, I have no hesitation in nominating Mairead, who is very worthy of such recognition.


Marie Devine

Newry Musical Feis

Nominated by Mary Goss; Festival Organiser

When news of the Super Volunteer nomination arrived, it was immediately clear that one member of our large team of dedicated volunteers stood out for special mention.

Marie Devine has been involved with Newry Musical Feis since she first participated as a small child in the 1940s.  Like so many others, in the intervening years she has seen her children and grandchildren enjoy all the benefits of involvement in the classes for Music, Dance and Speech but it is Marie’s commitment to giving back so much more than she has ever gained that makes her a Super Volunteer. 

Her dedication to her festival work is outstanding.  Newry Feis runs for forty-four 3-session days – often in two main venues; Marie works for each of those sessions – almost always on ‘box-office’ duty.  She is there from first thing in the morning until the final adjudication each evening.  Marie knows almost everyone by name – and can connect so many of the young performers to their parents, grandparents, and wider family.  When she greets the audience as they file in there is always a warm sense of belonging – a feeling that it is like a family reunion.  This is priceless.

Marie’s regular attendance at our regional meetings and her delight in getting to know colleagues from other festivals underlines her unshakeable belief in the importance of the work of the Festival Movement.  The lockdowns have been hard.  Marie can’t wait to get back on duty.


Jane Firth

Devon Performing Arts  Festival

Nominated by Linda Gibson; Festival Secretary

Jane Firth had been involved with the Devon Performing Arts Festival for many years in various capacities. Her family ran the local music shop and would encourage customers to enter. Jane entered speech classes herself, as did her children and, in recent years, her small granddaughter.

As a committee member and as festival treasurer for the last 10 years, Jane worked tirelessly. Nothing was ever too much trouble and she always ‘gave her all’ in cheerfully supporting DPAF even when her health began to deteriorate.

Jane's duties were many and varied. She procured the tuck to sell in the foyer, organised the stewards’ rota, made herself available throughout the whole festival and was an excellent treasurer. She was always there with a beautiful smile to give support to a nervous entrant and was a good friend to all the other members of the committee. Her wisdom could find a solution to most problems. All this was done with a great humility and most people were unaware of how great her contribution was.

Kind and thoughtful are the words that instantly spring to mind when thinking of Jane.She sadly passed away in September 2019 and is very sorely missed by us all, both personally and professionally.


Wilma Malcolm

Perthshire Musical (Competition) Festival Association (Perform in Perth)

Nominated by Eileen Waterston; Festival Organiser

Wilma is currently the Minutes Secretary for Perthshire Musical (Competition) Festival Association and has been volunteering for us for nearly 60 years.  She started as a Steward in her teens, in 1963, and has continued to volunteer ever since.  She was elected to be a Committee Member in 1981 and has continued to contribute in many practical ways, briefly as Music Secretary, running our fundraising Coffee Morning for many years and holding the post of Treasurer from 2000 to 2016, only stepping down following a health scare.  Wilma continues to make a huge contribution to the day to day running of the live festival, often taking the role of Adjudicator’s Steward or helping with IT in the festival office.

In this our Centenary year, Wilma has written a few paragraphs for our celebratory booklet, recalling some of the earlier years of her involvement.

Wilma was presented with her 50-year award nearly 10 years ago by Sheila McCallum, then Chairman of the Scottish Festivals Forum, who came to Perth to a special event to celebrate the contribution made to our festival by Wilma and several others who were also presented with their awards.