New College Durham has welcomed some of the best apprentices in the country to participate in regional heats for two national competitions. The College hosted the Concept Hair Apprentice of the Year competition, and the HIP and Sparks competitions for Heating and Plumbing apprentices, both in the same week.

On 27 January, students from further education colleges in Scotland, Yorkshire and across the North East region, descended upon the city to take part in the North East heat of the inaugural Concept magazine competition.

Apprentices and full-time students showcased their skills in seven categories including styling, hair up, barbering, colouring and avant-garde with opportunities for Level 1, 2 and 3 trainee hairdressers and Level 2 and 3 trainee barbers.

British Hairdresser of the Year, Robert Eaton, judged the competition alongside renowned hair professionals Jacqui McIntosh and Marcello Moccia.

New College Durham student Niamh Thompson was the winner of the Styling Level 1 category with fellow student Ellie Melvin taking the runner-up spot. The host college was also successful in the Hair Up Level 2 category with Samantha Twist taking first prize.

The HIP and Sparks regional heat took place the following day on 28 January, with students arriving from further education colleges across the North East region.

Apprentices and full-time students showcased their skills in a five hour practical challenge which involved carefully following drawings and schematics.

Sam Scott of Middlesbrough College won the plumbing category while Georgia Owens, also of Middlesbrough College, took first prize in the electricians.

Mark Anderson, Vice Principal at New College Durham, said: “We are delighted to host the first ever Concept Hair Apprentice of the Year competition and the HIP and Sparks competition. It has been an honour to welcome students from across the region and beyond to the College. These kind of competitions provide an excellent opportunity for students to showcase their skills.”

Lindsay Deswert, New College Durham’s Lead Practitioner for Employability and Skills, commented: “We would like to thank Concept magazine for giving us the opportunity to host the competition. It was an amazing experience for the students. We wish all of the winners good luck in the Concept hairdressing final in London in March.”

Ian Gaskill, Head of School of Technology, commented: “This was such a great opportunity for our students and all who took part. We would like to thank HIP and Sparks magazine for choosing New College Durham to host the competitions. We would like to wish the finalists the best of luck as they go forward to represent our region on a national stage.”

The winners of the 6 regional Concept magazine heats progress to the Grand Final which takes place at L’Oréal Professional Academy, Hammersmith, London on 26 March 2020.

The winners of the HIP and Sparks regional heats progress to the Grand Final which takes place at Schneider Electric Innovation Hub, in Coventry on 29-30 April.