Don Warrington reflects on the bigger picture
Actor Don Warrington MBE dropped in on Age UK Barnet to attend a morning of activities for older people living with dementia. During these mornings, volunteers do everything from making the teas to playing the piano that provides nostalgic background music for attendees.
Don, 71, known to television viewers from his appearances in Rising Damp and Death in Paradise, is no stranger to volunteering as a first step to becoming a part of something bigger: aged 17, he turned up in a Newcastle theatre to ask about acting work, only to be offered a job sweeping the stage, which he duly did and became assistant stage manager. “It was a selfish act on my part,” laughs Don. “I wanted to do something and didn’t know how to do it, so they told me that was the way to start.”
On his visit to Age UK Barnet, Don joined half of the group to make samosas, while the other half took part in chair yoga to encourage movement. “I made six or seven samosas,” reveals Don with pride. “I didn’t know how to do them before, but I know how to make them now. That’s something to achieve in a day.”
Don has done some of the work he’s proudest of in his career in the past decade, in productions of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons and King Lear. These roles came from having a “champion” in the form of a particular theatre director, so Don is enthusiastic about the idea of volunteers championing the older people they’re working to support. “Having a champion is important during every stage of life,” says Don. “Age UK’s work is important because we all need to keep doing the things that keep us alive, like staying active and being able to communicate with others.”