Chetham’s School of Music new student Rachel Fairhurst (front left) with friend Ellen Weaver playing in the Emmanuel College orchestra, conducted by Alexander Walls, at The Sage Gateshead

Chetham’s School of Music new student Rachel Fairhurst (front left) with friend Ellen Weaver playing in the Emmanuel College orchestra, conducted by Alexander Walls, at The Sage Gateshead

Rachel Fairhurst, of Bensham, will board at independent Chetham’s School of Music, in Manchester, from September.

A third of her timetable will be dedicated to music, as well as studying for A levels in English literature, history, music and music technology.

“I’m very excited but nearer the time I will probably be a bit more nervous,” she said.

The 16-year-old, who has just left Emmanuel College, in Gateshead, having completed her GCSEs, has paid tribute to her teachers for providing her with “fantastic opportunities” for developing her music in college productions and the orchestra.

“All the teachers there work really hard, they are all fantastic,” she said.

Rachel started playing violin aged seven at Newcastle Prep School before progressing through to grade eight during her five years at Emmanuel College.

She also started to learn the piano, which all Chetham’s students must play, and the concertina.

“I was away at an orchestra weekend and saw the concertina being played there. I thought it was really cool so decided to learn, playing folk music,” Rachel explained.

As well as playing in Emmanuel’s acclaimed orchestra, Rachel is in a string quartet called MERV, taken from the first names of her follow college musicians Michael Farrell, Ellen Weaver and Victoria Walls.

“We formed the group in Year 8 so we’re very determined to keep it going. I’ll be coming home every third weekend,” explained Rachel.

Her English teacher parents, Peter and Claire, face being ‘empty nesters’ this summer as Rachel’s brother Matthew is heading off to Honduras to work as a teaching assistant in a secondary school with the charity Project Trust.

Matthew, who has just taken his A levels at Emmanuel College, is taking a year out to work overseas before, he hopes, moving on to Cambridge University to study Japanese.

The talented linguist, who also plays the piano and drums, has a place to read East Asian studies at Robinson College, Cambridge, in 2017.