From the Alps to the beach, to the written word

Kimberley Kay

We spoke to author and illustrator, Kimberley Kay, following her recent book signing in the area to find out more about where life took her after her studies at Accrington & Rossendale College.

Courses taken at the College:

  • NNEB Nursery Nursing (1991) and evening courses in GCSE Psychology and GCSE Sociology
  • A Levels in Media Studies, English Literature, and Film Studies (1993) together with voluntary work in the college nursery

At the moment

“It’s been a whirlwind past year since achieving a publishing contract for my first book,” Kimberley says with smile. “I’ve written and illustrated Ski A to Z which is an illustrated guide to skiing and has since been published by Meyer & Meyer Sport (UK). Under the brand ‘Inspire by Kim’, I also work on commissioned and licensed illustrations covering sport and travel themes.”

Now living in Sheffield, Kimberley recently returned to her Lancashire roots for a book signing at Ski Rossendale where she grew up racing, working, teaching, and even race commentating. “The ski venue and experiences at Rossendale laid the foundations for my ski teaching in Austria which, in turn, launched my career in travel PR.”

Your time at the College

Kimberley joined Accrington & Rossendale College aged 16, completing a two-year NNEB in Nursery Nursing. “It was a very creative and varied course,” she recalls of her student years, “I enjoyed studying at the college and – inspired by my tutors – decided to extend my learning to study A Levels in Media Studies, English Literature and Film Studies, all of which cemented my passion for a career in the creative field.”

After securing a place at University, Kimberley deferred her start date to fulfil a love of travel and she began working as a child’s ski instructor in Austria. After a spell in Austria, Kimberley traded the Alps for the beach and spent a summer as a children’s representative on the island of Menorca for local company Airtours.

“I then commenced my degree in English at Edge Hill, applying all the learning I’d undertaken at Accrington & Rossendale College,” she remembers of her university days. “I spent the summer holidays working again as a children’s rep and in a nursery; before bringing everything together for a career in travel PR which has now spanned two decades.”

Your experiences since leaving the College

With A Levels under her belt, and wanderlust satisfied – for a time at least – Kimberley completed her English studies at Edge Hill University and embarked on a career in travel PR, which has allowed her to combine a love of travel, skiing, and creative writing.

Though her plans were disrupted somewhat following a knee injury that required surgery and a two-year rehabilitation, Kimberley’s ambition remained wholly intact. “I started to work on more visually creative projects, again with a ski theme, under my own brand, Inspire by Kim’. By working on my book, Ski A to Z, during my recovery, I brought together my love of skiing, writing and illustration. I’ve also been promoting the book while creating designs for my own fabric collection suited to ski chalets and hotels.”

Alumni wisdom

“Follow where your interests take you!” Kimberley advises our current students. “When you’re passionate about something you’ll be hungry to know more, meaning the learning and study will come easier and you’ll be far more likely to flourish.”

Applying yourself to your studies is the other big piece of advice Kimberley is eager to share, stating how your future self will thank you for it. “If you really want something, you’re probably going to have to work hard to get it; in my experience, it’s well worth it. I’m an advocate for life-long learning. Keep your options open and always be ready to embrace new opportunities. Don’t hide your light.”