Vicky Meets… Margaret Bristow, Volunteer Manager of The Regis Centre shop

Margaret Bristow credit: youreventphotography.uk
Margaret Bristow credit: youreventphotography.uk

A passionate supporter of the arts being available to all, listening to Margaret talk about her early career as a dancer and acrobat is mesmerising stuff.

“I am a bit of a daredevil and I worked in a circus in Germany where I rode the elephants and did acrobatics. I went out with the chap who was the human cannonball and I was taught how to be in a cage with a lion and a tiger,” she recalled with a laugh, as we sat and chatted in the brand new Regis Centre shop, just a stone’s throw away from the theatre.

Born in Holland but moving to England when she was four, Margaret later settled in Bognor Regis to raise her family, all of whom are involved in performing arts. Continuing to follow her theatrical passions by getting involved with the Regis Centre in its earliest days, she has since devoted time, energy and buckets of enthusiasm over more than thirty years.

“My daughter was in the first pantomime at the Regis Centre and I got involved with the theatre then. I opened my dance school forty years ago and it turned into a production company, Rainbow, which is based here. We put on productions that the whole community can get involved in. Everybody is welcome and we have a lot of fun.”

Explaining that the Regis Centre is a vital part of the community because it houses many local groups as well as providing great entertainment for all in its theatre, Margaret loves to get away from the telly and watch live performance whenever she can.

As for the charity shop; compact it may be, but the store is so well laid out, and the merchandise so well displayed, that it feels like a boutique. Explaining that she also intends to capitalise on the beachside location by stocking buckets and spades for seaside visitors to buy as they go past, she said:

“It’s quality over quantity and we do have some really lovely things. We even have a capodimonte ornament in stock at the moment! We also save the good quality fabric that is donated and one of our lovely volunteers makes up pretty peg bags, make-up cases and other bits.”

Spinal surgery means that, sadly, her dancing and elephant riding days are over, but Margaret intends to keep volunteering.

“There aren’t many places you can work with lovely people and have a sea view,” she laughed, adding that she is keen to hear from anyone wanting to volunteer. “Shifts are either 10am – 1pm or 1pm – 4pm and full training is given. There is great camaraderie and such a lot of laughter. We are a happy family here.”

Riffling through the well-organised rails I found myself in Bargain Heaven. £10 lighter, I left with a full bag of treasure and a mental note to return soon.

Please take good quality donations to the shop or the Regis Centre. More information: www.alexandratheatre.co.uk

See also: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2