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Awards and nomination for trio from Bury St Edmunds-based West Suffolk College’s Academy of Hairdressing





Two lecturers and a student from the hairdressing department at West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds styled it out in celebration after receiving two major awards and a national nomination.

Karen Baldwin, 46, the level two hairdressing course director at the college’s Academy of Hairdressing, won the ‘outstanding individual teacher’ award at the Association of Hairdressers and Therapists (AHT) annual gala dinner at the Village Hotel in Blackpool.

Karen, who has 30 years of experience in the trade, including 19 of those as a lecturer at the college, was nominated by a colleague, shortlisted and then announced as the overall winner last month.

Karen Baldwin from Newmarket has won a national Association of Hairdressers and Therapists award and hopes that the success will 'make me want to continue to try and inspire my colleagues and students'. Picture: Eastern Education Group
Karen Baldwin from Newmarket has won a national Association of Hairdressers and Therapists award and hopes that the success will 'make me want to continue to try and inspire my colleagues and students'. Picture: Eastern Education Group

Karen, from Newmarket, said: “I was very shocked to be announced as the winner as I was up against some teaching big hitters from places like Cheshire, Glasgow and Manchester.

“When my name was called out, I was overwhelmed and it felt absolutely lovely to be recognised. It helps reassure me that my work as a teacher is having an impact and making a difference.”

Karen added: “Winning makes me want to continue to try and inspire my colleagues and students.”

Bobby Barnes from Brandon won a national Association of Hairdressers and Therapists competition in Blackpool last week. Picture: Eastern Education Group
Bobby Barnes from Brandon won a national Association of Hairdressers and Therapists competition in Blackpool last week. Picture: Eastern Education Group

Following on from Karen’s success, Bobby Barnes, 18, from Brandon, near Thetford, attended the AHT national hair and beauty finals at the Norbreck Castle Hotel, also in Blackpool, last week.

Bobby, who is a barbering student at West Suffolk College, competed in a regional heat in Croydon last month and went on to beat 19 other contestants in the finals of the ‘masculine cut and finish on pre-coloured hair’ category.

He said: “I was buzzing when my name was read out as the winner. This will 100% help me. It is a real confidence booster.”

Bobby, who hopes to have his own business and branded products in the future, received styling products, a trophy, medal, certificate and membership for Style Book Directory as his prizes.

He also had a word of praise for the college. Bobby said: “I get lots of support from everyone at the college. If you are struggling, they [staff] are always there for you.”

Finally, hairdressing lecturer Jo Doward has made it to the finals of Educator of the Year, sponsored by Wella Professionals, at the Hairdressers Journal (HJ) British Hairdressing Business Awards 2024.

Jo Doward from West Suffolk College is hoping to get national recognition at the Hairdressers Journal (HJ) British Hairdressing annual Business Awards that are taking place in London this July. Picture: Eastern Education Group
Jo Doward from West Suffolk College is hoping to get national recognition at the Hairdressers Journal (HJ) British Hairdressing annual Business Awards that are taking place in London this July. Picture: Eastern Education Group

Jo said: “I’m absolutely thrilled [to be nominated]. Hairdressing is my passion, and there’s nothing more fulfilling than empowering others to grow, learn and achieve their dreams.”

Jo will find out how she has got on at an awards ceremony that is taking place on July 1 at London’s Park Plaza in Westminster.