Helen Purchase

Helen’s love of the violin and its music began at the age of four when she started Suzuki violin lessons and was soon playing such classics as the Bach double violin concerto and Vivaldi concerti. Shortly after she commenced lessons with Jessie Ridley in Ipswich at the age of 11; she was introduced to orchestral music, playing in the Suffolk Schools Orchestra, the Lavenham Sinfonia, Wolsey Chamber Orchestra, and the Ipswich and Colchester Chamber Orchestra.

Helen Purchase
Helen Purchase | Image by Petersfield Photographic Society

At Colchester Institute, where she became a student at the age of 16, she took the double A-level music course and studied violin and viola under Glyn Parfitt. Her main study on the music degree course was Performance and she became Leader of the Symphony Orchestra and Leader of the violas in the Chamber Orchestra. She also gained her LTCL in violin teaching. Graduating from Colchester, she immediately left for Jersey, an island for which she still has great affection, to take up a post teaching 100 viola pupils for a year.

Her year at Middlesex University on a PGCE course also involved leading the orchestra, which among other things led a live BBC “Songs of Praise” programme. From here she took up her present post at Churcher’s College, initially employed as ‘Teacher in charge of Strings’, later becoming ‘Head of Instrumental Studies’ and since 2012 has been ‘Director of Music’. Helen became ‘Head of Performing Arts’ at Churcher’s College in 2016.

In addition to her busy school life, Helen was invited to join and lead the second violins in a newly formed professional orchestra, based in Southampton, called ‘Son’ in 2016. As well as leading the Petersfield Orchestra, she also plays in several other orchestras in Hampshire.

She still finds time to keep fit, with a combination of running, cycling, cross-country skiing and mountaineering, of which her more notable highlights include climbing a 6000m peak in the Himalayas, summiting Mont Blanc, achieving a sub-40 minute 10km, completing the Scotland 100mile Coast-to-Coast race in 2012, and completing a 50km ski marathon in Lillehammer, Norway.