Shropshire Star

How volunteering at Market Drayton's community-owned venue could help you

From yoga to street dance, from cinema screenings to live performances - Festival Drayton Centre has been dedicated to serving its community for 38 years.

Volunteer Helen Kay serving coffee

The award-winning multi-purpose venue, based in Market Drayton, has been owned and run by the local community since its launch in 1984.

It offers residents and visitors a range of events, exhibitions and weekly classes to get involved with, while also renting its rooms out for hire.

Volunteer Jackie Matthews taking bookings

But while the centre is considered a 'lifeline' for some – a central 'social hub' in Market Drayton ­— there are many who don't make use of what's available on their doorstep.

Robyn Edwards-Tsika, manager at the centre, said: "So many people come here. It's a very comfortable place and lots of people come to events on their own. People come in every day for their coffee and a teacake."

But, she said, "a lot of people don't know what we do and who we are" despite them having to travel out of town to Chester or Stoke-on-Trent to access similar facilities.

Volunteer Jennifer Kavanagh taking orders in the cafe

The centre is run by a team of 80 dedicated volunteers who give up their time to operate the box office, coffee shop and support the tech team with evening performances.

It welcomes a host of comedians, musicians and tribute acts through its doors each year and relies heavily on its volunteer workforce in order to put these events on.

Volunteer Richard Loat replacing lights

Robyn said: "Our volunteers are vital to us and without them it wouldn't run and it wouldn't be feasible. They're integral to what we do."

Made up of retirees, young people and single people wanting to form friendships, the team have been described as an 'inclusive' family where each person is valued for the role they play.

"It's such a lovely place to be and to volunteer here at the centre – it's just one big family. There are some people who work here who have moved to Market Drayton and wanted to join a group," Robyn added.

The centre is looking to bolster its volunteer workforce and has recently published its brochure to people in the area who might be able to spare a couple of hours or even a couple of days a week.

Volunteer Dave Hewitt cleaning tables

"Volunteering has so many positive benefits and being here in Festival Drayton Centre, it's such a warm and welcoming centre," Robyn said.

"You only need to be here a week and you'll see so many smiling faces. "You might do things you've never done before and it's and great way to try new things and build confidence."

Volunteers Malcolm Kay and Richard Loat replacing lights

Since Covid people's priorities have changed, Robyn added, with more people having to find paid work in order to support themselves and their families.

But the centre is keen to support young people in particular, who are looking for opportunities to boost their CV or employability skills.

To find out more about the opportunities or to enquire about becoming a volunteer, contact