As a youngster growing up in the Solomon Islands, Rachel Kearns had her first big break when she was cast as Rosamund in a junior production of Where the Rainbow Ends. Now, at last, she’s working professionally in the drama world, as new marketing manager for the gloriously-situated and highly acclaimed Theatre by the Lake in Keswick. And her journey from there to Cumbria reveals one of the most fascinating CVs either side of the equator.
Rachel was born in Zambia where her English parents were both working as teachers. They moved to Honiara in the Solomon Islands when she was just two years old, and then, when Rachel was 12, to Australia.
“I came to live in England when I was 38. We came for a year and are still here now after first camping on the shores of Derwentwater and getting summer jobs in Keswick. We now own a house and live in Keswick and love it,” she says.
But first, that career path. With a degree in Business under her belt, Rachel first worked in five-star hotels in Melbourne where she was “butler” to the likes of Venus and Serena Williams, Sir Edmund Hilary, and the Rolling Stones, to name but a few. “Yes, I have handled Kevin Costner’s trousers and underpants,” she recalls.
After that, she set up and ran bespoke scratch bakeries, before deciding to retrain – as a veterinary nurse. “I have a natural curiosity, and a desire to learn. I thrive and do my best when I'm challenged and have the opportunity to be both creative and analytic in equal measure.”
But the next challenge was the move to England and another change of direction. “I started working in the outdoor industry, fell in love with it and ended up finally developing my business skills and specialising in marketing.”
It was also the opportunity – and the space – to develop her love of the outdoors; she’s a climber, walker, runner, cyclist, swimmer. “I tend to operate at a very high energy level, and so I need to find time to recharge, and I can do it perfectly here.”
The climate suits her better than Australia: “I love that it’s cool most of the time”, and Rachel appreciates the relatively safe outdoor environment. “While Australia is a beautiful country, and I loved living there, its heat, dangerous animals, spiders, snakes, and sheer size make it a much more challenging environment to be in. Here, if I saw a pike while swimming, I’d be thrilled.”
And it suits her, as well, to be back in a theatre. “I absolutely loved being onstage. I did dabble in drama throughout my schooling and have always loved going to the theatre and cinema, been fascinated with the performance but also with the behind-the-scenes activity, a throwback to my hotel days maybe?”
When Rachel first arrived in Keswick, she started volunteering at the theatre, and loved the buzz of being at a live venue. “It’s so special having a theatre like this is Keswick. It’s a real gift to the area and for anyone visiting.
“Theatre can really impact on people and make a difference, and seeing audiences coming out, and their reactions, that’s just the best feeling.”
There are plans afoot for “a bit of a refit, to make some of our beautiful spaces more accessible and functional for anyone visiting to see our exhibits or just spend time near the lake. We’ve got amazing views and a great restaurant and bar on site as well, so it really is a great night out!”
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