Staff and students celebrate successful first year at College’s Hexham Centre

Staff and students celebrate successful first year at College’s Hexham Centre  
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Northumberland College’s Hexham Centre hosted a special event today to mark its first birthday and celebrate the success of its first cohort of students.

The Hexham Centre was officially opened by Guy Opperman MP in September and features The Graduate hair and beauty salon, IT suites, a business administration practice office, teaching and learning spaces and breakout areas for students.

The centre was launched in response to demand from the Tynedale area as Northumberland College delivers courses across the county, from Berwick in the north to Ashington in the South East.

Principal, Stuart Cutforth, gave a short presentation on the success of the centre and presented students with awards before Nigel Lister, Director of Curriculum, cut the birthday cake to officially mark the occasion.

Over 200 students, aged 16-81 from all over the Tyne Valley, completed full and part-time courses this academic year. 

Training has included short introductory level programmes, Apprenticeships and full Level 1 to 3 qualifications in a range of subjects: Travel and Tourism, Book-Keeping, Hairdressing, Beauty Therapy, Business Administration, Information Technology, Counselling Skills, Employability and Early Years.

Nick Bartlett, 18, from Allendale was the first student to enrol at the Hexham Centre. He said: "I have really enjoyed studying Travel and Tourism at Northumberland College. We have learned loads about the industry and it's great that the centre is local."

It has been a successful first year with many students taking part in competitions.

Trainee hairdresser Melissa Howdon, from Hexham, was the first student from the Hexham Centre to win an award. She came third in the Ladies Evening Style round of the Association of Hairdressers and Therapists' UK Trainee Competition.

27-year-old Melissa, a mum of two, has just completed the Level 2 Diploma in Hairdressing said: "I enrolled on the course in September and never thought I'd be competing in national competitions so soon, I was over the moon to get third place. 

"I have really enjoyed studying at the centre, particularly in The Graduate hair salon because the facilities are excellent.  I have gained confidence dealing with clients and using creativity with styles and feel I have been able to push myself. I am looking forward to progressing to a Level 3 in September."

In May, beauty therapy students, Victoria Roberts and Kayleigh Fairburn took part in the national heat of a WorldSkillsUK Level 2 Nail Art competition at Edinburgh Telford College, achieving first and second places respectively.

The Graduate salon was the first salon in the North East and one of just 30 throughout the UK to be awarded Centre of Excellence Status by Wella. As a result, the college will benefit from the latest professional advice and products, and the credibility within the industry that such accreditation can provide both staff and students.

As well as offering courses for school leavers the centre has a strong community and adult based learning focus and acts as a hub for local businesses to identify their skills needs and to develop and expand the college's apprenticeship offer, which include over 40 Apprenticeship subjects from Hairdressing to Health and Social Care and IT to Early Years.

The college also has strong relationships with partner organisations and provides facilities for NBSL and Ingeus and their clients, many of whom enrol on training courses to improve either job prospects or to help with aspects of running a small business.

For more information about the training opportunities available in Hexham, call 01434 605050, email or visit