Hilary Barkwith was born in Ilford to an English mother and a Norwegian father. She began piano lessons aged 8 ½ with a local teacher Mimi Robertson. After leaving school she worked as a laboratory technician at the Royal London Hospital and continued with piano tuition, gaining her diplomas in 1974 and 1976. After raising a family, taking an Open University degree, and completing the ABRSM’s Certificate of Teaching course, she built up a teaching practice and resumed piano performing.
Hilary also plays the harp. Although she wanted to play the harp from the age of 6, it wasn’t until she was in the sixth form at Beal Girls grammar school in Ilford that she was afforded the chance to do so. She was lent a harp and given tuition from Nans Wheldon and then Eleri Davis. Sadly the harp was returned and tuition ceased on leaving the school and harp playing lay dormant for 20+years. In due course Hilary was able to buy an early reconditioned Erard Grecian harp and other upgraded instruments, and has been playing ever since. She performs regularly with the Brentwood Philharmonic and Havering Concert Orchestras.
She is also a member of the Cappella Singers in Upminster.