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Students reach UK final of prestigious hair competition

Heather Wynne, Ceri Thomas and Leah Oldham competed in the Concept Hair Learner of the Year final in front of judges and a live audience

Three Coleg Llandrillo students reached the UK final of the Concept Hair Learner of the Year competition.

Heather Wynne, Ceri Thomas and Leah Oldham were among the 54 finalists selected from thousands of applicants across the country.

In the live final at Telford College, they styled hair in front of industry-leading judges and a packed audience of family, friends and tutors - all while under the spotlight of cameras taking pictures and video for social media.

Heather competed in the Level 2 boho theme competition, Ceri in Level 1 boho theme, and Leah in Level 2 street-style barbering.

Ceri, from Penrhyn Bay, studies Level 1 Hairdressing at the college’s Rhos-on-Sea campus.

She said of the competition: “It was nerve-wracking to say the least! I have never done anything like this before so it was a real baptism of fire.

“I recognised some of the judges too, which made me quite nervous. Lisa Farrall has recently been a judge on 'The Big Blow Out' on Channel 4. She is a huge advocate of textured hair education and is someone I've followed on Instagram for a while. I felt quite starstruck when she came over to have a chat while we were working.

“It was absolutely amazing. It was such an achievement to even get to the final and an experience I'll never forget.”

Ceri said reaching the final of the competition had reaffirmed her desire to work in hairdressing after she enrolled at college looking to change her career.

“I've come to college as a mature student after becoming disheartened with my chosen career path,” she said. “Getting through to the final of my first ever hairdressing competition was the sign I needed to know I had made the right decision.”

Coleg Llandrillo’s hairdressing and barbering lecturers encouraged their students to enter the competition back in December. They submitted photos of their work, with shortlisted applicants invited to compete in the live finals.

Heather, from Old Colwyn, runs Harmony Wedding Hair and studies Level 2 Hairdressing.

She said: “There were 54 finalists from across the UK, so for three of us to be from Llandrillo was amazing.

“We all had to compete in live finals, with half-hour time slots and six competitors in each category.

“It was quite nerve-racking competing in front of the audience. Competitors could take one model, two spectators and a tutor, so there were four people for each competitor, which was quite a lot of people spectating.”

Finalists received prizes from competition sponsors L’Oréal Professionnel, Alan Howard, Denman Professional, Diva Pro, Wahl Professional, WIG, HTCI Platform, and VTCT.

They also won a year’s membership of The Fellowship for British Hairdressing, which offers education, mentoring and events to help develop the hairdressing and barbering industry.

Heather said: “We didn’t make it as the winners in our categories but we won lots of prizes for just being in the final. We went home with goody bags worth £300 each - I got a hairdryer, clippers and other products which will be really useful.

“Also everybody got a certificate and a Fellowship for 12 months, so we’ve got access to the app where we can stream videos on styling, colouring, cutting - everything we need for different brands.”

Ceri said the college lecturers had been a huge help, adding: “All the tutors were really supportive and talked us through what it was going to be like.

“They gave us time to practise our competition pieces during lessons and offered advice on how to stay within time limits. Two of the tutors came with us and drove us all to Telford college and back. After a long day at the competition they were still full of positivity!”

Do you want to work in hairdressing, barbering or beauty therapy? Click here to discover more about Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s courses