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Deb Shenton


I saw advertisements for performances when Appetite first started in Stoke, and we started taking the children. We really enjoyed the fact that there were high quality performances in the area that we could afford to go and see – they were free at the time, and when you’ve got three children it’s quite expensive to go and see good quality art and drama. 

After the first two years of being an audience member, I decided to volunteer and help out. The first event I did was the Oasis Social Club, which was a pop up cafe/bar which hosted arts activities, talks and performances. That was really good. I gradually did more and more performances, and I do most of them now if I’m free. In fact we even arrange our holidays around Appetite events!

I like volunteering because it makes me feel like I’m part of the community. When people enjoy the art, I like feeling that I’m part of the team that’s helped people to enjoy it. Volunteering has helped me become more sociable and join in with other local arts groups - my husband and I have even joined a samba drumming group thanks to the recommendation from another Appetite volunteer.

I think it’s really important that the cultural side of the city should be developed. Before Appetite came, there weren’t that many arts events happening in the area, so I really like knowing that we’re providing that and that it’s open to people from wherever they are to come and see and join in.

Appetite has changed our family life for the better. We volunteer as a family. It’s good working together and the children get to see me in a different light, not just as their mum. The team’s really friendly and Isaac and Mara both love being part of it. They even get out of bed early during their summer holidays to volunteer, which isn't easy for teenagers! They’ve both had work experience with Appetite or related production companies, which has given them an interest in working within the performing arts.

I’ve recently joined the Supper Club side of Appetite, which is the part where people from the local area help find arts events that will suit the area - that’s been my next step. We go and look at acts around the country and choose ones that we think would work here. 

Photo: Stephen King