A CAREER change to train as a hairdresser has paid off for Hannah Foster.

Now a sought-after member of the team at Duke Hare Barbers, in Scotland Road, Carlisle, Hannah swapped a job in management to take up her scissors and comb.

She was announced as the winner of the in-Cumbria 2020 Apprentice/Trainee of the Year award, which goes to someone who, in the view of their employer and the judges, has demonstrated dedication, enthusiasm and skill.

Hannah said: “It feels amazing to win this award, it’s a big boost in your confidence.”

She thanked Sarah McKibbin, owner of Duke Hare, and Alice Smith for all the training they had given her in her role.

“They have helped me grow not only as a barber, but as a person as well,” she said.

“We’ve spent a lot of time training during work hours and after work and I’m grateful for all the time and effort they’ve put into me. We are all the best of friends now.

“I’m shocked that I have won to be honest, but if I had to say one reason why I have won it would be because of all the effort and enthusiasm that I put into my job.

“It’s really good to see small local businesses are being celebrated, especially when this year has been tough on most.

“2020 has been a strange year for my industry with lockdown and all the new restrictions, but if anything it’s made us more passionate and grateful to do the job that we do.

“Hopefully 2021 will be a lot easier for the hair industry so that I can develop my skills further and build an even bigger clientele.

“But mostly I’ll just enjoy going to work every day again with having so much time spent in lockdown this year.”

Duke Hare is a traditional barber’s shop owned by Sarah, who has more than 12 years’ experience in gents grooming. Skills learnt from Sarah, as well as a course in Glasgow, have helped Hannah.

Sarah, who nominated Hannah, said: “I am really proud. I think I might have upset the neighbours because I think I screamed when she won.

“The fact we have got customers who phone up and specifically want an appointment with her and the fact she has her own large customer base shows just how well she has done.”

Professor Andy Gale, representing category sponsor the University of Cumbria, presented the award and was the chief judge, with Luke Jarmyn, in-Cumbria’s Business Audience & Content Editor assisting.

The judges were full of praise for Hannah describing her as “highly committed.”

Comments included: “She has made hard choices to pursue her vocation. She values the skills of those who she watches.”

The runners-up were Ellis Watret and Holly Fears, both of Stan Sherlock Associates,and both were highly commended by the judges for their hard work and ‘get-up and go’ attitude.