Hairdressing student is best of 1,000 after winning national competition

Aspiring hairdresser Rachael Penny defeated 1,000 other students and apprentices to win a national competition.

Rachael Penny, who studies at the College of West Anglia (CWA), was named winner of the Concept Hair Magazine’s Learner of the Year 2021 competition in the avant-garde category. - Credit: COWA

An aspiring hairdresser from Wisbech defeated 1,000 other students and apprentices to win a national competition.

Rachael Penny, who studies at the College of West Anglia (CWA), was named winner of the Concept Hair Magazine’s Learner of the Year 2021 competition in the avant-garde category.

Rachael Penny, has been named winner of the Concept Hair Magazine’s Learner of the Year 2021 competition

College of West Anglia (CWA) hairdressing student, Rachael Penny, has been named winner of the Concept Hair Magazine’s Learner of the Year 2021 competition in the avant-garde category. - Credit: COLLEGE OF WEST ANGLIA

Rachael said: "I created the initial design for the first-round last year and then once I was shortlisted, created a second design, with the theme ‘Safari' and a vision board to be entered into the final.

"The final decision was announced live on April 26, with industry leaders as judges.

"It was a complete surprise that I won, my family and I were so excited, we were screaming with joy.”

Rachael's winning design, centred around the designated 'safari' brief.

Rachael's winning design, centred around the designated 'safari' brief. - Credit: COLLEGE OF WEST ANGLIA

Rachael won £1,000 worth of hairdressing tools and professional courses.


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Rachael decided to return to learning as a mature student, having completed her level 2 qualification.

Now, she has nearly completed her level 3 qualification in hairdressing at CWA’s Wisbech campus.

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She added: “It's never too late to follow your dreams and train in a new career. You just need passion, drive and motivation. 

"I absolutely love the creativity of hairdressing and helping to make people feel good about themselves. I can’t wait to start working.”

Charlotte Bywater with her vision board for the competition.

Charlotte Bywater, CWA level 1 hair and beauty student, was also shortlisted to the top 20 of the Styling level 1 category. She is pictured with her vision board for the competition. - Credit: COLLEGE OF WEST ANGLIA

Charlotte Bywater, CWA level 1 hair and beauty student, was also shortlisted to the top 20 of the styling level 1 category.

For the finals she had to create a look with the theme festival hair, accompanied by a vision board to show her influences.

Charlotte said: “I thought the competition was fun and it was great to have a new challenge.

"I have enjoyed seeing my look come to life and the results.”

Charlotte Bywater, CWA level 1 hair and beauty student, was also shortlisted to the top 20 of the styling level 1 category

Charlotte Bywater, CWA level 1 hair and beauty student, was also shortlisted to the top 20 of the styling level 1 category. This is her top 20 design, centred around the designated 'festival' brief. - Credit: COLLEGE OF WEST ANGLIA

You can see more of Rachel’s work online.

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