We sat down to chat with Hazel Gearing in the basement of Mansion, with the photocopiers and printers whirring in the background. She, her husband John (Teacher of Geography and Head Coach, Rowing), and four children emigrated to the UK in 2006. We asked her about her move from South Africa and what she found when she and her family arrived at Radley.
We packed our bags into the car wearing shorts and t-shirts, leaving a warm December day of 38 degrees in South Africa. What a shock to step out into a bitterly cold, very foggy British day after our flight! I’d never been so cold in my entire life! We were quickly absorbed into College life once term started, and we have been very happy here since.
After working in all sorts of other jobs, I applied for the Reprographics role. During my interview I had to admit that I didn’t know how to use the photocopiers or the design programmes, but I was very willing to learn. Thankfully, they took a chance on me and gave me the job.
What was the department like when you joined?
I started in Repro in 2013, taking over from Del and Jean who retired at the same time. Del printed on a huge Litho printer, developing his negatives in a small dark room next to the printers. Very little design work was done in Repro, but I have really enjoyed teaching myself to use Adobe InDesign, so I am able to create and produce a variety of printed material, such as menus, invitations, place-names, posters, and programmes. I really love this part of my job.
What does your day-to-day job entail?
I am quite active during my workday; loading paper into the machines, filling boxes with printing and delivering what I can around campus. I am very pleased that I don’t have to sit behind a desk all day.
I use two photocopiers – a big black and white Canon, which I call Martha, because she’s a doer! She works hard and gets through a lot of printing with very little fuss. She does all the bigger print runs such as mock exams, revision booklets, and Orders of Service. The colour printer, Mary, handles more refined printing, such as invitations, stationery, and programmes. You really need to know just how to handle her to get her to print! I enjoy making booklets and other documents look good. I feel that a boy is much more likely to work through a large revision document if it looks appealing and easy to read.
What does Radley mean to you?
The Radley College community was so welcoming and kind to us when we arrived here from South Africa. We are very fortunate to live and work in such a beautiful place with such a supportive community of staff and friends. I only have gratitude for Radley and what it has given us.
Is there a a particularly memorable moment that springs to mind from your time at Radley?
Going to Henley Royal Regatta for the first time was a very interesting experience. I have attended the regatta many times over the years to support John and his crew, as well as to cheer for my own sons who all raced at Henley in the 1st VIII during their time at Radley. It is an amazing event to experience, especially when you have someone special to support.
Tell us a bit about your interests away from the Repro department.
I started going to yoga classes in the Round Pavilion when we first arrived in the UK and since then have tried different types of yoga and begun to practice more often. In 2020 I took a 250-hour teacher training course in Vinyasa yoga which is one of the biggest things I’ve done in my life; it took a massive amount of courage to graduate from the course but the training was amazing and gave me enough confidence to be able to put myself out there as a teacher. I feel very encouraged that my Thursday evening class at the Sports Centre gets booked up every week.
I taught yoga to the senior rowing squad here at Radley for a few months in 2020 and a little over Zoom during Lockdown too – the boys were happy to try the more adventurous poses and I enjoyed watching their progress. Yoga has been transformative in my life. The physical practice offers obvious rewards, but the philosophy around it has helped me to be a calmer, kinder person, and to cope much better with stress.
My other interest is art. I did a fine arts degree after finishing school and my dream is to be a children’s book illustrator – maybe one day I will be! I use collage and mixed media, watercolours, inks, pencil crayons, as well as acrylics to create my art. I also enjoy trying all sorts of crafts, I just love to be creative really. My son is making me a website for my artwork so watch this space!