A LONG-SERVING volunteer who has helped shaped The Met theatre is stepping down after 21 years.

John Banbury, aged 76, joined the board of volunteers in 1996 after leaving his job in consumer distribution.

Not only was Mr Banbury part of the team which procured funding from the Arts Council to refurbish The Met, but during his time he saw The Met change into a modern venue hosting an increased range of arts events.

Mr Banbury said: “I have enjoyed it. I decided it was time to go but that’s not without some regrets. I shall miss all the people and the interest I got out of the day to day work. I have enjoyed all my time there. I think it’s an excellent example of a charity board and staff working together and really improving things over the years.”

Mr Banbury said during his 21 years he had seen The Met grow its turnover grow from less than £200,000 to more than £750,000 each year.

He said: “Our range and number of shows has gone up immensely and we have a national profile for things like festivals such as Head for the Hills and Big Whistle festival. None of this was around 20 or 15 years ago.”

The former distribution director was connected with The Met thanks to the now defunct, Business in the Arts: North West group.

He became involved largely as an advisor to the directors of The Met and in 2002 won the Business in the Arts Volunteer of the Year award.

Mr Banbury helped the theatre put together its budgets and proposals to the Arts Council to ensure it could keep running. Last year The Met received £3.1 million capital investment from the Arts Council which went towards the £4.6 million refurbishment of the venue. While Mr Banbury will no longer be advising the directors he has been asked to be the President of the Board of Volunteers. He said he was ‘honoured’ to have been given the ambassadorial role.

Victoria Robinson, chief executive officer at The Met said: “John has been a great support to the organisation over his 21 years. He started as Vice Chair at a time when the organisation needed help to develop and in his time the organisation has grown significantly.

“He has remained a source of inspiration for the organisation throughout his time as vice chair and has provided invaluable support and mentoring to senior staff.

“He will be greatly missed as Vice Chair but I’m sure he will continue to be as active and involved with The Met during his year as President.”

Mr Banbury hopes he and his wife, Maureen, aged 75, can relax a little bit more at their home in Marple.