Want to know more about giving yourself to charity for a secondment and how it helped one person to find the time to take stock and re-evaluate whilst having a ball at the same time?
Then read on to my farewell blog from The World of Difference Charity scheme reflecting on the highs and inspirations of my two months working in The Watermill Theatre.
The Hungry Caterpillar
The Hungry Caterpillar is my favourite children’s story. It’s about personal transformation and food, two of my favourite things. I was reminded of this story just before starting my World of Difference placement. I was celebrating the end of my second year exams for the Acupuncture degree I’m studying when my close friend Kyla said “You remind me of the Hungry Caterpillar”. Well I do like my food I replied….and laughed nervously breathing in my tummy muscles at the same time…”It’s like you’ve been in hibernation, collecting and feasting on all this experience that you’ve had for the last few years, and now you’re full but frustrated because you’re ready to stretch your wings and really fly”. She was so right. It was such a good analogy (and one I wish I’d thought of first. Kyla, I will pay you rights in fish and chips and fizz next week xx)
So as one show closes, another opens and the show must go on. Last week was Propellers last week and leave on a high they did. I took three of my close friends to see the show on closing night and boy did we have a good time. I just love what they do for Shakespeare. They make it accessible, transformational, creative, fun, but they stay true to the roots and and offer respect to The Bard with their interpretations. So I sigh a deep and contented farewell to the new friends I’ve made in Propeller and we welcome in the Love on the Tracks team which opened this week, only here for a short time though then it’s out on tour regionally, so catch it while you can!
This week also sees my final personal performance at The Watermill Theatre and time to tie up loose ends, bring projects to a neat curtain close (and work out how I can continue to stay part of the Watermill family long into the future…). My final performance brings a little sadness, a great big sigh of satisfaction and reflections of triumphant memory gathering!
I’m (a little bit) melancholy and sad because there is a lot to miss from my daily life at The Watermill; the drive through the countryside every morning, bunny hopping over the three bridges until the weeping willows open into the picturesque village of Bagnor; the Watermill buildings open their arms – you’ve arrived; the constant supply of home baking which appears every week (Beth, your gluten free brownies were my favourite I have to say, apologies to the rest, but please try harder next time); the office banter; the back stage stories; the meet and greets; the excitement of a set change over; the guessing game of seeing props and sets transform and take shape. And most importantly, the very warm welcome that every single person who has been at or passed through The Watermill (including the Gardeners and the animals) have given me and how much I’ve felt embraced as part of The Watermill Family.
I’ve done a lot! I was worried when I started that I’d try and take on the world (usual Jennifer Potter stylie) and end up being frustrated about what I’ve been able to achieve. The truth is you can do a lot when you’re high on life! The people that work here (as probably for most charities) are so efficient it’s unbelievable. But they have to be. Not only have I been able to partake in various volunteer activities such as being an Usher, helping with The Outreach team, back stage support, I’ve also delivered a number of projects which without the World of Difference scheme would have sat in the ‘Nice to Have’ pot for a little while longer. The bigger picture review and assessment, the précis of our current successes alongside idea development and opportunity spotting for future growth and incremental revenues. To be honest, The Watermill is in pretty good nick if you ask me, but there’s always more can be done as with any business.
So on to my final reflections. I applied to do The World of Difference because I wanted to make a difference, to give something back of myself, to feel more fulfilled (and also because a certain Isobel Kenyon inspired me). If you know me well, you’ll know I’m really passionate about emotional intelligence and personal awareness. One of my personal values is about ‘Making a Difference’ so how could I not apply for a scheme called World of Difference? It’s been a journey and a half and I will remember it for a very long time.
The induction day in itself was an emotional experience. 500 winners in a room with inspirational speakers Simon Weston, Lisa Potts and Gok Wan, to name drop a few. I was touched and had to fight back the tears on more than one occasion from the very moving stories people shared. I remember one quote really vividly which I think was Simon Weston who said, ‘what you are going to do for your charities is a real gift for them, and you. Mark my words, your lives are about to change for the better’. We were told that 80% of the previous winner’s lives had changed as a result of being part of the scheme.
My life changed day one when I drove over those three little bridges and my butterfly started to take shape. Two weeks later it changed even more significantly when I was offered the opportunity to take redundancy from my permanent employment. Two months through my journey here, I’ve been able to live up to many of my personal values; making a difference, liberation, fun, challenge, and most importantly for me growth.
I have been able to help support one of my favourite charities by providing them with three things (I hope); my time, my experience, and my passion for what they do. I have been told on numerous occasions that my giddy passion in the theatre, particularly the Watermill Theatre has been infectious for those that work here or pass through here and that’s been a lovely (and easy) gift to give.
In return, I have been presented with a feast of amazing experiences which could satisfy the largest of appetites and made some very special new friends who I shall cherish for a very long time.
So as my fat Yorkshire caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly, I look forward with eager anticipation to the next ‘Act’ in my story and thank all the lovely people who have helped me to apply for this scheme, be successful in this scheme, and offered support to me through a period of significant change and transformation (oh and not forgetting the drunken river jumping memory which will stay with me for a very long time).