Hair stylists from Uxbridge College have won their way through to the finals of a national competition.

The trainees are due to compete in the national finals of the Association of Hairdressers and Therapists hair and beauty competition in Blackpool on 5 March, after winning through regional heats.

The three successful students were picked from trainees from colleges all over the south of England, who took part in the regional event in Bournemouth on 6 February.

The winners from Uxbridge College, who train in its professional-level salon in the Hayes Community Campus in Coldharbour Lane, Hayes, were:

* Rattandeep Johl (25), first in Cover Girl section (beauty/make-up)
* Mesrak  Kaleab (20), second in Afro Caribbean hair section
* Nana Akua Mills (31), third in Afro Caribbean hair

The girls are all studying NVQ courses in Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy. Nana, who helps her sister Yaa Etsilpah run the Yana Hair Salon in Victoria Road, South Ruislip, was a financial adviser before starting her college course.

She decided on the career change because she wanted to do something more creative, and needed more flexibility to help care for her son Jayden who is three.

She has entered four hairdressing competitions so far, and was shortlisted for the Black Hair magazine competition in October, and pictures of her work have appeared in Black Beauty and Hair magazine.

She said: "It is really nerve-racking entering competitions but I love it and it is fantastic to win. It is a lot of hard work but it is great to see the outcome. I want to become a really creative hairdresser who is well-known in the industry - and we want our salon to be known for its professionalism."

A total of around 15 trainees, who each took a model, competed in the regional heats, after being picked from 60 students in an in-house competition at Uxbridge College at the end of last year.

Entry fees and travel expenses were met by the College Enrichment programme, which gives backing to activities run in addition to normal study.

Christina Wallace, lecturer in hairdressing at Uxbridge College, said: "All our entrants did amazingly and I am really proud of them - they are showing they have really got what it takes to make a success of their careers in what is a highly competitive area. This kind of event is a chance for trainees to show off their best work, and to learn from others who have different skills."

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