Having the voice of an angel was only one of Kathryn Hern’s many extraordinary gifts. As a classically trained opera singer (lyric coloratura soprano), Kathryn sang for the Queen Mum in London, England, being chosen to represent Canada for Commonwealth Day.
Kathryn travelled the world and was pursued romantically by a billionaire sheik. She wrote books, climbed mountains, met rock stars, dignitaries, politicians, movie stars, queens, princes and princesses.
Yet it wasn’t until she met a man named Kevin Hern, that true enchantment came into her life, and it was the birth of her son, Finn, which brought Kathryn the most joy.
Kathryn Enticknapp, was born on May 16, 1974, in Milton. As a child, she had a voracious love of reading and she was most content sitting quietly immersed in a book, even during bustling family vacations. Kathryn also liked to sing and enjoyed performing in school plays. One of Kathryn’s teachers came forward to her mother, encouraging her to enroll Kathryn in singing lessons. Kathryn’s mother obliged, and this was a cornerstone in the development of just one of Kathryn’s extraordinary gifts – her voice.
Kathryn’s family moved to Guelph when she was partway through Grade 7. On her first day of school, she sat in front of Alison Duncan in English class, who would become her best friend.
“Kath embraced life,” shared Alison. “She was fun, energetic, passionate and full of love. She had a contagious laugh which would get bigger with each snort. Our laughter together usually ended with tears streaming down our face.”
Kathryn continued her singing, belonging to the Ontario Youth Choir and performed with the Mohawk College Singers when she was still in high school. Kathryn studied Music Performance and English Literature at the University of Guelph and was accepted to study abroad for a year in U of G’s “London Semester for the Arts” at the Royal College of Music in London, England. This was a prestigious school, and Kathryn studied one-on-one with Graziella Sciutti, a famous opera soprano whose students were world-renowned.
In her third lesson with Graziella, Kathryn shared that every lesson was getting better and better, as Kathryn was learning new techniques and repertoire. Graziella was equally impressed with Kathryn, commenting that Kathryn was the fastest learner that she ever taught and was astounded by the progress that she made in only a few weeks.
Kathryn sang at various venues while in England, and in 1997 was chosen to stay for a weekend at Windsor Great Park in England and sing for the Queen Mum at Cumberland Lodge. It was a weekend full of adventure that Kathryn would never forget. Kathryn spent some time speaking with the Queen Mum, who was very interested in Kathryn’s future plans.
Graziella started encouraging Kathryn to focus on a singing career in opera, and wanted Kathryn to study with her full-time, until such time that Graziella would pick a time to formally release Kathyrn into the opera world. Although Kathryn loved singing, she knew that she would have to set aside marriage and a family to succeed in the competitive world of opera. It was a turning point for Kathryn, as she decided to step away from the opera.
She didn’t love the stage enough, and her dream for family was stronger. It was a decision that Kathryn would never regret.
While Kathryn was in London, she also worked as an executive assistant to a top surgeon at St. Mary’s hospital. In Kathryn’s role, she became the executive liaison between surgeons and high-end clients, including royalty, dignitaries and rock stars, for specialist surgeries. “It was during this time that we travelled through England and Italy together,” Alison shared. “I am so grateful for the wonderful memories travelling in Rome and Florence, eating real Italian pizza, fresh peaches, tons of gelato, tossing coins in the Trevi fountain and chasing off the Italian men – most of whom were after Kath.”
On one trip back to Guelph to visit family for Christmas holidays, Kathryn met a nice man named Kevin Hern on her third day in town and they spent the entire three weeks together. She went back to England to tie up loose ends and came back to Canada. On Dec. 7, 2001, they married.
Kevin and Kathryn reveled in this time alone together in their early marriage. They travelled and climbed mountains. Kathryn was caught singing to Kevin in an ancient mountain chapel in Florence by an equally ancient woman, who broke down uncontrollably, sobbing at the beauty of Kathryn’s singing.
Kathryn held several different positions in Guelph, while doing freelance writing and research work at the same time. She worked at the Guelph General Hospital and worked for six years at the Canadian Red Cross Society in Guelph. Kathryn was at the Red Cross when the tsunami hit in 2004, and she worked for 16 hours each day, every day for weeks. She also volunteered with Red Cross during this time, as did Kevin. “Whatever she did, I did” shared Kevin. “We were always around each other in some way.”
More recently, Kathryn was an employee of the City of Guelph as Research Analyst. Kathryn was also starting to write books in the romance genre. She was so talented, and her first draft so polished, that it was actually her final draft since she edited as she typed.
“Kathryn was gifted in many ways; she had an extremely high IQ and everything came naturally to her,” shared Kevin. “Her writing was just as good as her singing,” explained Kevin.
Kathryn was in negotiations with a publisher right at the time she became pregnant, but was so sick she set it aside until she could focus more time on it. On Feb. 28, 2007, Finn was born to Kevin and Kathryn at home with the assistance of midwives. Finn was the joy of Kathryn’s life.
Kathryn’s new child and severe headaches that had started meant finishing her books got pushed further and further back. It was around this time Kathryn was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
“The day she came to tell me about her brain tumour, she was so positive and so calm. She had determined that she was going to do everything in her power to fight this,” said Duncan. “She did just that. She fought as hard as she could for herself, for Kevin and for Finn. I was continually amazed by her positive attitude and I firmly believe it was this that kept her with us so long. She wouldn’t allow any negativity to creep into her thoughts. She was truly an inspiration to us all.”
Kathryn had several surgeries and treatments to fight the brain tumour, and though there were glimmers of hope and healing over several years, the tumour became incessant. As Kathryn’s illness became palliative, she took the time to make future birthday videos and to purchase future birthday gifts for Finn.
Kathryn passed away in the morning hours on Aug. 21, 2014 at Hospice Wellington in Guelph. She was 40 years old.
Please take a moment to listen to the audio clip in the link below of Kathryn singing “Nulla In Mundo Pax Sincera”. The voice of Kathryn’s is the voice of an angel. http://www.guelphmercury.com/…/5298842-former-city-of-guel…/