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 or call the College hotline on 01244 656555.

Students give free haircuts to homeless

Two kind-hearted barbering students from Cheshire College – South & West, used their scissor skills to give free haircuts to homeless people in Manchester.

Leon Hall, 31, from Buckley and Jenny Ankers, 32, from Elton, were inspired to help after seeing professional barbers on YouTube.

Leon explains: “I’d seen a video of a barber giving free haircuts to homeless people. It was such a simple thing to do; but the impact on the people he helped was enormous.”

The two students decided to spend their day-off from studying, by travelling to Manchester and cutting the hair of homeless people near the Arndale Centre.

Jenny adds: “The response was incredible. The guys we helped were really touched. It’s just nice to do something that makes someone feel good about themselves.”

After such a positive response, the students, who both started studying Barbering at Cheshire College – South & West’s Ellesmere Port Campus last September, are planning to make it a regular event once a month.

Andrea Huby, Assistant Director Hair, Beauty and Hospitality at Cheshire College – South & West, said: “This was such a thoughtful gesture by Leon and Jenny and we are all extremely proud of their commitment to helping others in need.”

The Great British Barber Bash comes to West Cheshire College

The trend-setting Great British Barber Bash (GBBB) is coming to South Cheshire College/West Cheshire College’s Ellesmere Port Campus this month for a three-hour demonstration on the latest on trend barbering techniques.

Tickets are now on sale for the Barber Bash on Tuesday 28th November when three members of the GBBB team Eric Bregg, Greg Forrest and Paul Barbercode will take to the stage to display the latest current industry trends, sharing their own individual inspirational ideas and knowledge. Doors will open at 6pm, with the show officially commencing at 6.30pm.

The announcement of the Nationally acclaimed British Barber Bash road show comes just after the College opened its own traditional style Barbers shop, Squires of Cheshire, at both its Ellesmere Port and Crewe campuses.

Joanne McKay, Barbering Lecturer at South Cheshire College/West Cheshire College said: “We are thrilled that GBBB are coming to Ellesmere Port this month. The Barbering industry has taken the UK by storm and this event will enable salon owners and employers to network with both staff and students at the college to develop collaborative working partnerships whilst gaining exposure to leading barbering professionals”

Tickets for the Great British Barber Bash at South Cheshire College/ West Cheshire College’s Ellesmere Port Campus cost £25 and are available from or call 01704 548881.