News Story

Last year we put a call-out for volunteers to join our wardrobe team to support with simple sewing jobs and assist in the mammoth task of cataloguing our entire wardrobe store.

12-months on, and as we open our doors once more for new volunteers to join, some of our current volunteers shared insights into what they have gained and learnt from their experience over the last 12-months.

Every week the volunteers have donated their time and helped the team by sewing labels in to garments from over 20,000 items in our store, so far completing an impressive feat of over 3,300 labels. They also helped with our hugely successful costume sale in July 2023, which raised 2,696.80.

Volunteer, Sue Charlton said:“It’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and I’m never happier than when I’ve got a needle in my hand. I love sewing and fabrics and I love being with people who enjoy the same things and I’ve loved the company. We’ve got to see some fantastic costumes, it’s lovely to see clothes from through the ages. It’s good fun, we have a laugh, so I’d definitely say to anyone to come along.”

Volunteer, Tracey Hayes commented:“I’ve always enjoyed coming to the Octagon and I was looking for something creative to do and heard about this opportunity. It is lovely being amongst this group of people, we’re all friendly, and we get to tell lots of stories, we have fun - and the staff take really good care of us with biscuits and cups of tea.

“It’s fascinating hearing stories as well about the theatre and we’ve had the opportunity to see dress rehearsals, and it is interesting to see how much work goes into a production.

“I think people of all ages would really benefit from this opportunity and would encourage anyone interested in theatre and sewing to come along.”

Volunteer David, Valentine added: “I’ve really enjoyed talking to the team here and learning all about behind the scenes and the creative process that they are involved in, how the process of design affects their work, and also the maintenance of the costumes during a production.

“Su [Wardrobe Manager] and Jess [Wardrobe Assistant] are always happy to share their expertise with us as well and help us improve our craft.”

Volunteer Susan Fernside mentioned: "I'm interested in costume history and always come and watch the productions at the Octagon so I thought I would give this a try. I've met some lovely people and we get to have a good chat whilst we are sewing."

Su Newell, Wardrobe Manager at the Octagon added:We are so thankful to our wonderful team of volunteers who have been working with us over the last 12 months, it is a joy to welcome them every week. It was a very daunting process when we first approached the challenge of cataloguing every item in our store, and we simply could not have accomplished what we have so far without all their hard work, they are an invaluable part of our team. We do have spaces available for people to join and would encourage anyone who is interested in getting involved to get in touch.”

The wardrobe volunteers meet most weeks on a Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon, from 2pm – 5pm.

Express an interest in volunteering here

Volunteers would need good basic sewing skills. The Octagon will provide all equipment and free refreshments is also provided.