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 Students and staff from the College of West Anglia (CWA) came together for a watch party to celebrate the live announcement of the WorldSkills UK competition finals by top TV presenter Steph McGovern from her Channel 4 Packed Lunch studio.

Rachael Penny from Wisbech and former CWA hairdressing student took the bronze medal after competing at the national finals at Loreal London in November. Rachael, one of seven finalists out of 270 entrants, was required to complete five different tests over the course of two days, including reverse balayage, a bridal look as well as precision cuts and colour work.

Rachael said:

“I am overwhelmed to be a WorldSkills UK Bronze medallist. Many thanks to David Pomfret, Principal of CWA, and Sarah Smith, my former tutor, for urging me to enter and for their support and encouragement.

This competition has been an extensive process, with hundreds of entrants nationwide, and 3 stages to pass prior to the finals. These included photographic entries of my work, as well as a live zoom national qualifier, where we completed a cut and colour in a given time.

I was amazed to find I had made the finals where we spent two intensive days styling in London, courtesy of L'Oreal Academy.  It has all been a fantastic experience and to gain a World Skills medal is the icing on the cake. It’s never too late to change career and follow your dreams!

I now look forward to my future hairstyling career and to building a clientele. You can follow my work on Facebook or Instagram @rachaelpennyhairstylist.”


Rachael Penny and David Pomfret


Jack Godfrey-Long, Jodie Blaaser, Rachael Penny, Marianne Hewitt and Luke Barnes

Rachael adds this to her list of successes this year, having won the Concept Hair Magazine’s Learner of the Year 2021 in the avant-garde category, Concept Hair learner of the month June 2021 as well as winning the Prostyling UK 2020 competition.

Rachael decided to return to learning as a mature student 2 years ago and has now completed her level 3 qualification in Hairdressing and has now set up her own home salon, The Hair Art Room.

CWA Creative Media students were one of five teams to compete at the national Worldskills UK final in the Digital Media Production category after competing against teams from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in the national semi-final stages of the competition.

The CWA Digital Media Production student team consisted of Jack Godfrey-Long, Luke Barnes, Jodie Blaaser and Marianne Hewitt.

David Pomfret, Principal at CWA, said:

CWA had more finalists and medal winners than any other college in the region this year and this is testament to the highly-skilled students and dedicated teachers at the college. The watch party was a fabulous opportunity to celebrate the achievements and hard work of our students alongside their friends, families and staff who have supported their journeys. I’d like to personally congratulate our talented students and the CWA staff team for their unwavering support.”


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