Music charity CEO finds Kentish Town ‘more vibrant than Johannesburg’

Pauline Etkin is CEO of Nordoff Robbins.

Pauline Etkin is CEO of Nordoff Robbins. - Credit: Archant

Pauline Etkin, 66, of the Ingestre Estate, Kentish Town, runs national music charity Nordoff Robbins. She was recently recognised for her services to music therapy with an OBE in the New Year Honours list. This week, she features in the Ham&High’s Who’s Who section.

What brought you to settle in Kentish Town?

My role as managing director of Nordoff Robbins required me to live on site at our Music Therapy Centre in Lissenden Gardens. My partner and I quickly grew to love the area. When I moved out of the centre I decided to stay in the area and I bought a house just off Highgate Road on the Ingestre Estate.

How does Kentish Town compare with where you are from in South Africa?

Believe it or not, Kentish Town is a lot more vibrant than Johannesburg, where I came from in South Africa. I feel much closer and more in touch with the people around me, not to mention far safer walking the streets.

You have a day off and choose to spend it in Kentish Town. What would you get up to?

I would take a leisurely walk around Parliament Hill, pausing to watch the birds and activities around the ponds. I would end up at one of the wonderful cafés around the park.

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If you could change one thing about Kentish Town, what would it be?

I would brighten up the high street and improve traffic flow, and make it a nicer place for people to visit and do their shopping.

You are forced to move to a desert island for a month. You are allowed to take one album from one musical artist. Which one would you take and why?

Verdi’s Requiem – it is so filled with pathos, energy and beauty with melody lines that soar and break your heart, while also being filled with energy and hope.

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

Clive Robbins (who died in 2011) was the co-founder of Nordoff Robbins. I was fortunate enough to train as a music therapist under him. He was a free spirit, creative, passionate, generous and extremely giving to all who knew him. Music therapy would not be where it is today without him.

What has motivated your work with Nordoff Robbins over the last 30 years?

I believe music is the best motivator anyone could wish for.