Childhood Dreams and Happenstance
This story starts in 1991.
Just imagine the scene.
A young Mum is sat at playgroup with her friends, and proudly asks her (ever so cute, if I may say so myself) 5-year-old daughter what she wants to be when she grows up.
‘I want to be Queen’ she says.
‘You said you wanted to be a vet this morning and look after animals’ says her Mum, aware that this situation has gone a little wrong and her daughter sounds less like a caring little girl, and more like a despot.
Triumphantly, the 5-year-old declares ‘yeah, but now I want to be Queen’.
This article is the story of my career – from my childhood dream of being Queen to my current job as Researcher Development Manager at the University of Exeter. The story is a personal one, and therefore contains anecdotes – and photos – to help you understand and follow the career decisions I made.
Naturally, my career goals evolved over the course of my childhood. As I grew – not yet ‘up’ – I developed a keen interest in the performing arts. Specifically, I loved to dance. I never have been able to sit still, so it seemed like the perfect vehicle for my restlessness.
Once I decided I wanted to be a performer my parents selflessly drove me all over East Devon for classes and rehearsals, and by age 14 I was performing in the professional company at the Northcott Theatre in Exeter. I was dancing in pantomimes, acting in plays and having the time of my life performing in musicals as part of the Northcott Young Company. It was a dream come true. It was a fantastic training ground for young performers, and so many of us owe our careers – in a wide variety of fields – to the wonderful Rachel Vowles and John Whitehead.
The stage was my second home, and at 16 I auditioned for and was offered a place to study Musical Theatre at The Brit School in Croydon – whose alumni includes the likes of Adele, Amy Winehouse, Jessie J and Leona Lewis. I was all ready to go to London and make my fortune in the style of Dick Whittington when at the last minute I changed my mind. I was not ready to leave home, to leave Devon or to leave my family. So I enrolled to do A-Levels at a local Sixth Form College. And it is one of the best impromptu decisions I’ve ever made.