I've mainly been an usher at The Old Fire Station. I started in - it must have been in August - I've done three so far. I like the music side of things - all sorts, from opera to ordinary music. I don’t see much live music because like I am, it’s a bit difficult to get to venues.
I'm living in bungalows with all elderly people and I wanted to get away and try to make my own new friends and meet younger people. I mean I am about sixty but I wanted to meet new people of my own, you know? And broaden my outlook on life - thought it would help me as well.
I'm a bit limited because of a wheelchair but I still can contribute a lot. I help people get to their seats, programmes, talk to people generally as they come into the theatre. I give tickets, sometimes I am just in the theatre guiding people and that. And I have to also look to see that they're behaving themselves and if anything unusual occurs. What I like is, you haven't looked at me in a wheelchair, you've looked at me - what my talents are - because there's not many places that do that.
Getting to the Fire Station - well it’s all part of the - it’s all part of getting out and about and that sort of thing. I do enjoy that part of it because I think, ooh I'm off out to the theatre today and I've got to get myself into gear, you know what I mean? I can go into town do a few jobs or whatever, and also it gets me out of my shell, you know? If you're in your own shell in your own bungalow you tend to be only in your little shell, and that’s bad for you as well.
I sometimes leave a bit early, and I like to get here earlier than I'm meant to so I can just calm myself down and relax and get a cup of tea or whatever I want to do, so I'm geared up for ushering.
Just in the time I've been here, I've met a few people that have got to know me slightly, know who I am now so I'm not just a stranger coming through the door. The lady manager says hello how are you getting on? And in the street sometimes I see the people that work here and I say, hello so and so how are you? yeah, I'm part of the theatre now, and people are speaking to me outside the theatre, not just when I'm at the theatre.
And I meet people from different backgrounds, one chap, when we had the volunteer party, he was talking about his life a bit you know? That was interesting. He was saying he was on drugs for a while, he managed to get off it and he was alright. You know there's no negatives, it’s done me a lot of good, there's no negatives.
It gives you a sense of pride having to be responsible, not just somebody in the audience, you've got to be responsible for everybody in the audience. One lady came up to me - she sounded very nervous and said when's the concert starting? And I said they'll be in in a minute, you'll be alright just wait in the theatre. But she didn’t stay there the full time, she went at half time. I think she was a nervous person, so you have to be ready for that kind of thing as well you know. That was interesting because I wasn’t sure how to handle it at first, I thought oh dear are we going to have a problem - I think I handled it in a nice manner.
I don’t feel out of it here, obviously some jobs I won’t be able to do but - there are talents that I can give, you know, there's other ways of helping. My communication skills are good and I've got a lot of knowledge I can pass on. People here look at what I can offer rather than looking at oh dear is he going to be able to - you know? That’s the thing I like. There's other times I've tried to volunteer and they look at the - it’s getting better in this country but at one time in a wheelchair they used to talk to the person pushing and not take any notice. But here, I haven't had any barriers here, you know?
There is sometimes a little bit of a barrier because people are not really expecting somebody in a wheelchair to give them a hand or ask for their tickets or whatever, do you know what I mean? Like if I said, there's a fire, we're going to go to this exit, they might think oh blimey somebody in a wheelchair telling us to go to the exit! You know what I mean? Sometimes I've had to say to an audience member, I'm here to help you if you need any help.
I feel different - I feel a bit more important and contributing to something rather than just sitting indoors - because I'm now feeling I'm contributing to something, I've got to get my act together because I got something to go to and something to deal with.
It’s helped me with my speech, I'm not so afraid to speak, you know with cerebral palsy you get speech problems - but with this thing it helps me to keep my voice going so you don’t stammer too much.
Everybody's said to me - I hope you come back and do some more, so that was good, that was good feedback.