Couple in 80s thrilled to be Glastonbury volunteers

By Bea Swallow, BBC News, West of England

grey placeholderOxfam  Graham and Judy Cole wearing orange Oxfam hi-vis vests and lanyards. They are standing amongst some trees that have bunting hanging between the branchesOxfam

Stewards are responsible for checking wristbands and directing festival traffic, with 2,000 volunteers always on site

A couple in their 80s who have been volunteering at Glastonbury Festival since 1995 said they were “thrilled” to do their bit for charity.

Judy Cole, 81, and her husband Graham, who celebrates his 84th birthday at the festival, are volunteering as stewards to support the work of Oxfam.

Glastonbury invited the poverty-relief charity along for the first time in 1993 and have partnered with it ever since, with Oxfam receiving donations from the festival.

The couple, who have been married for six decades, are passionate advocates for humanitarian aid, said: “We should all be doing more to help, rich countries especially.”

‘A fantastic charity’

Oxfam said its work spans across various sectors of global emergency response, including women’s rights, the climate crisis, food and water shortages, inequality and poverty.

Last year, Glastonbury volunteers gave up more than 206,000 hours of their time over the summer and helped to raise more than £1.5m to support Oxfam’s work.

“It’s a fantastic charity that’s doing a lot to help with humanitarian aid,” Mr Cole said.

“Whatever small part we can play in that, we will. Every country that can do something, should do something.”

Volunteer stewards work three eight-hour shifts across the five-day event.

After arriving on Sunday, the couple have helped set up and welcomed thousands of keen festival goers who had queued up since dawn.

They have now finished their shifts and were relaxing.

Mr Cole, who turns 84 on Saturday, said: “We’re just sitting in the shade now, enjoying the wonderful views.”

‘Enjoy festival atmosphere’

grey placeholderHandout Graham and Judy Cole standing at Glastonbury Festival holding a blue and pink umbrellaHandout

The pair have been attending Glastonbury Festival since the early 80s

“We’re not huge festival people necessarily, we just really enjoy the atmosphere of Glastonbury in particular,” Mrs Cole added.

“You can just sit on the grass and chat with the people around you. That’s what’s so brilliant. It brings people together no matter who you are, or where you’ve come from.”

The couple live in Sheffield and endured a five-hour coach ride to walk through the gates at Glastonbury.

“We try to come every year,” said Mrs Cole.

“We don’t always make it, but it’s become a sort of staple in our calendar. We’ll continue to do it for as long as we’re able.”

The pair will be camping for the remainder of the festival and said they were looking forward to wandering around the site and seeing what “takes their fancy”.

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