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Volunteer Spotlight: Marilyn Pollard and Tom Pollard

April 16, 2024

Marilyn Pollard and her oldest son, Tom Pollard, make a formidable team. Marilyn lives in Wallaceburg, and Tom calls London his home. Together, they volunteer at both Huron Country Playhouse’s theatres, racking up hundreds of hours each year.

Drayton Entertainment volunteer Marilyn Pollard with some of the Company of Jack and the Beanstalk - The Panto

Drayton Entertainment volunteer Marilyn Pollard - with (from L to R) Mariah Campos, Justin Bott, Tim Porter, and Kristen Pottle from the 2019 production of Jack and the Beanstalk: The Panto - often volunteers with her son, Tom Pollard.

How long have you been volunteering with Drayton Entertainment, and why did you start?

Marilyn: I go back a long way. My husband and I bought a cottage in Grand Bend in 1999 and decided we’d buy season tickets. We went to the Huron Country Playhouse every summer until Bob died in 2014. I decided I wanted to give back to the theatre because I loved it so much, so in 2015 I asked around, and the only way you could be an usher was to join the Huron Country Playhouse Guild. That’s a group of ladies that volunteer at the theatre and have a gift shop for fund raising, so I joined them, and I became an usher. We didn’t do all the other jobs. We just ushered, basically, maybe sold ice cream.

I love seeing people enjoy themselves. Every day, I try to do a good deed, so when I go to the theatre, I’m doing a good deed.

Tom: I don’t remember when I started volunteering. We attended a lot of theatre shows, and found out that they were looking for volunteers to help out doing ushering duties. I was basically free on weekends, so I said, sure, not a problem.

How many hours have you worked as Drayton Entertainment volunteers?

Marilyn: Something like 358.50  hours for 2023.  Before Drayton Entertainment came, our hours were not recorded.

Tom: This past year was 172.

Where do you volunteer?

Tom: I go up to Grand Bend in the summer, so that was most shows on the weekends. Having shows at both Huron Country Playhouse theatres on Friday nights, Saturday and Sunday, I sort of volunteer doing different duties at each of them. It’s nice to have the two shows going on, because then you can pick and choose and see different productions.

Marilyn: At Huron Country Playhouse, there are two stages - Mainstage and South Huron Stage. I volunteer at both. I have enough entertainment right there in Grand Bend.

Do you usually volunteer together?

Tom: Yes. She has her preferred spots, but I move around and do different things. Sometimes I would do inside, helping people finding their seats, or selling 50/50 tickets, or scanning tickets as they come in the door, or selling ice cream and water. So I changed it up and move it around. I’m not doing the same thing all the time.

Marilyn: In the summer, I stay at the cottage all week, and I volunteer through the week. Tom comes out on the weekends and  volunteers at the theatre.  

Marilyn, you were once a Special Olympics coach?

Marilyn: Oh, I did all sorts of things. First of all, I coached swimming and I had three or four swim teams, including a Special Olympic swim team, high school swim team, and a competitive swim team. I did it for 40 years, and I coached gymnastics for 37 years because I wanted to keep my children involved in doing things. It’s wonderful to see somebody learn a new trick or improve themselves, or they’ve gone on and they’ve started coaching themselves. That really pleases me. I coached baseball for a while, but it wasn’t my first sport. It was because they couldn’t find a coach for my kids. Wallaceburg is a small town!

Are there any other ways that you serve the community, Tom?

Tom: I’m a professional engineer. I design some of the systems that go into building construction. We view the work and make sure it’s operating properly. I’m involved in some engineering and technical committees and groups, so during the week and over the wintertime, I am involved in those, go to some of their conferences and in meetings, both locally and regionally and in the United States.

Why do you find volunteering so fulfilling?

Marilyn: I like to see people enjoy themselves. When you sit there and you see them laughing and smiling, it’s very rewarding.

Tom: Well, you get to see some good productions that Drayton Entertainment has, and you’re helping out. I know that it’s a nonprofit group, and it sort of gives me something to do on the weekends, versus just being in Grand Bend.

What was the last Drayton Entertainment show that you saw?

Marilyn: Rock of Ages and New Canadian Curling Club. I worked at both of them. I work at every one.

Tom: I was a volunteer for both of those shows the last weekend that they had performances. They had staggered start dates and end dates, so you can pick and choose which show to see. It’s nice to be able to see the show more than once because sometimes you don’t get all the activity going on on the stage or the jokes. Being a volunteer, you get to watch it again.

What type of shows do you enjoy the most?

Tom: I like the comedies and the pantos. There’s always a panto that comes to Grand Bend, so we see one of those each year, and then there’s some comedies. The musicals are also very good, typically one large production that is well known, like some of the Disney works. The first show that I really can remember is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. That was quite a few years ago.

Marilyn: Oh, I like the pantos. (Laughs) That’s right on top of my list. I am very thankful that Drayton Entertainment came to Huron Country Playhouse. The productions that are presented are wonderful. Grand Bend is lucky to have them.

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