Volunteers vital for film festival success

Sponcors, organisers and stars of Berwick Film Festival
Sponcors, organisers and stars of Berwick Film Festival

Berwick Film Festival has showcased a range of live events, installations and film premieres across the town over the past ten years.

It expects to attract over 9,000 visitors this year and has been on the receiving end of many awards including Best Event Northumberland at the Journal Culture Awards.

However, none of it would have been possible if it wasn’t for a group of unsung heroes – volunteers. Especially for the work of three volunteers who have given up their time for the festival every year.

Marion Matthewman, 70, is one of the trio who has completed a ten-year stint, although she nearly missed out this year.

“I absolutely love helping out, but this year I decided not to take part because it is very hard work,” she explained. “That was until I got pulled back in after the first planning meeting. Now I think I’m working every day!”

When asked what her favourite part was of the film festival, Mrs Matthewman said that she loves seeing all the different buildings and locations that are used for the events.

She added: “It’s important to know about the story behind the building that you are in because visitors like to know about the local history, especially places such as The Ice House that are rarely open to the public.”

The other two volunteers who can celebrate their ten-year anniversary are Derek Hood and Phil Lindsay.

Festival director Melanie Iredale believes the volunteer team are the faces of the festival.

She added: “They’re ambassadors for every venue, film, installation and individual experience in the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed once the festival begins.

“We’ve been incredibly lucky that each year our volunteers really embrace that, and truly embody the festival. They enhance the experience of our guests and visitors and we couldn’t ask for more.”

Volunteers are involved in the festival right from the start with planning, marketing and preparation roles.

They then continue on through to invigilating, stewarding and providing a point of contact and a helping hand for the thousands of visitors.