Rebecca Kitchin’s relationship with Radley began when she started work on the Chapel extension project in 2019. We sat down with Rebecca to find out about her unique perspective on Radley.
When the chance to work on the Radley Chapel project came up, I was keen to be involved. I had been at Ridge, the construction consultancy firm, for two years, working on a huge range of projects from science labs, party wall, projects abroad – it was varied and interesting but my real passion is for historic buildings. David Anderson (Estates Bursar) was looking for some support with the Chapel project and contacted Ridge, who he used to work for, and that’s where I came in! I met David and it seemed a good fit. My role was as ‘Client Representative’ so I was seconded from Ridge to Radley to liaise between David and the architect and contractor.
How did you find balancing two days at Radley with three days working on your other projects at Ridge?
Having two days to focus on Radley projects was great as it allowed me to get stuck into one client. In my role at Ridge I always had a number of clients on the go at the same time and would be pushing all of them along simultaneously, so I enjoyed just having Radley at the front of my mind.
When did the full-time role at Radley come up?
David and I had worked really well together over the two years it took to complete Chapel so when the role of Estates Surveyor was advertised I was keen to apply and was very pleased to be appointed full time.
Has history and historic buildings always been your passion?
I studied history at Exeter and then worked overseas in Lebanon for a year before returning to London and two years in advertising. Then I decided I wanted to return to my first love! So I did a masters in Conservation of Historic Buildings at Bath and that led onto me doing my Chartership, in building surveying, with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) which I achieved in 2018. Since then I’ve also trained as an interior designer.
Tell us about that, I understand it was born out of Lockdown?
Yes, it wasn’t planned! I continued working during Lockdown but I did have more time on my hands than usual. I entered the annual interior design competition run by House & Garden magazine. I put together a portfolio, and got shortlisted for the final interview over Zoom and, to my surprise, won the competition. The prize was a scholarship for a year’s training at KLC School of Design in London which I completed part time, while I continued to work full time as well. Fitting lectures and studying in around work was very busy and challenging but it was so interesting, and I learnt a lot that I’m getting to use here at Radley.
What appealed to you about the role at Radley?
I love working in a small team and I really like the people, the atmosphere and the location.
Can you pick a highlight from your time here so far?
There are a few, but most are related to Chapel as it was a once in a lifetime project. Designing the stained glass with York Glaziers Trust was amazing. I photographed all over the original Chapel, looking at the friezes, carvings and different motifs used and this was what the stained glass designers based their work on, so that whole experience was very special. Physically getting the reredos back into Chapel was the moment that gave me the most stress. Seeing this priceless fifteenth century wooden carving suspended in chains between two towers was too much for me… I had to go outside while it was lowered into place as I couldn’t watch! In contrast, I’ve enjoyed working on a modern building like Shop and particularly having creative control to decorate the meeting rooms.
What are the projects currently on your to-do list?
I’m keeping an eye on Park End Barn – as it’s a listed structure with lovely elm cladding there’s a lot of additional conservation work to do. At the moment, we’re just working to make it stable and weather-tight. We’re in the pre-planning stage for the new Music building including surveys and preliminary designs. We’re also finishing off the Church Farm development putting in new garages which is the final part of that project. Add to that general surveys and smaller one-off projects with Maintenance and I’m keeping busy!
What do you do in your spare time?
I’ve just moved house and am planning my wedding which will happen in 2023, so lots of planning, mood-boards and decorating at the moment!