A cut above the rest

Top hairdressing, barber and beauty students from Cheshire College – South & West sailed through two rounds of gruelling competitions to qualify for, The Blackpool Hairdressing Competition National Finals, this month.

The pre-qualifications comprising of two dedicated categories began back in January, with 12 students taking part in the ‘cut and blow’ competition, along with 13 students in the avant-gared themed ‘Fantasy’ competition. The top three students in each category were selected by a panel of outside judges and given the chance to then compete at The Blackpool Hairdressing Competition’s Regional Finals.

Heading up the judging panel was UK based hairstylist, Richard Phillipart, an expert stylist working across fashion, advertising and education.

Karen Bennison, Level 3 & 4 Curriculum Leader in Hairdressing at Cheshire College – South & West commented: “It was a huge honour and privilege to have Richard join us at our in-house competition to determine the winners and competition entries for the regional hairdressing awards.

“Richard is a member of the L’Oreal Professional team. He also works with Babyliss, is the owner of successful salons and has been involved in countless New York, London, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks. It was therefore great to be able to have his eye and opinion at our competition. Not only that but he also awarded the winner, Sharon Besong, with the opportunity to support his team at the Chester Cathedral Catwalk last month.”

Sharon Besong, 39 from Ellesmere Port, and a Level 3 Diploma Hairdressing Student at Cheshire College – South & West added: “It was amazing to work alongside Richard and watch him work. I was able to join in at the fashion workshop prior to the catwalk so I got to see everything in action first hand. It’s a fast paced environment, but also a huge buzz and amazing to be a part of. It was an absolute great experience and a treasured memory. Hopefully I’ll gain more opportunities such as this throughout my career.”

Students who claimed the top three placements at the in-house competition subsequently made the final cut to take part at the Regionals. This was held in Blackpool in February and saw Kayley Daniells, 31 from Chester, claim third place in the ‘Fantasy’ competition, alongside Sharon Besong and Akhsa Tariq who also came third in the ‘Team Bridal’ category comprising hair and make-up. This gave them immediate entry into the Nationals.

Accompanying the hairdressing and beauty team, student barbers, Jenny Ankers, 32 from Chester and Nathan Ryan, 24 from Flint also progressed through to the Nationals. Cheshire College – South & West gain a lot of support from employer engagement links, and Oliver Foster, a panellist at the Great British Barbers and Head of Education at Number 47 Barbers also travelled to Blackpool to encourage the finalists.

Karen went on to say: “The Blackpool Hairdressing Competition has grown over the years and now commands the attention of world-class players in the industry. It is a highly prestigious and established awards scheme, celebrating upcoming talent and encouraging development.

“The Nationals took place last week and the competition was fierce. Whilst we didn’t come away with any podium finishes, it was excellent experience for the students and an opportunity to boost their profiles within the sector. I am really proud of all the students that took part – they did a remarkable job.”

For more information on studying at Cheshire College – South & West, or if you would like more information on the courses available, visit ccsw.ac.uk or call the College hotline on 01244 656555.