Hairdresser Niki's efforts rewarded

PUBLISHED: 17:38 26 August 2008 | UPDATED: 22:15 26 October 2009

Niki: Nominated for an award

Niki: Nominated for an award

NIKI Hayler has always wanted to become a hairdresser. And the 20-year-old Hatfield woman is now fulfilling her dream after completing a two-year apprenticeship. Not only that, but her efforts against the odds has seen her nominated for a prestigious

NIKI Hayler has always wanted to become a hairdresser.

And the 20-year-old Hatfield woman is now fulfilling her dream after completing a two-year apprenticeship.

Not only that, but her efforts against the odds has seen her nominated for a prestigious achievement award.

As well as studying at Hertford Regional College, Niki worked at the Hair Design salon in Welham Green.

Her main responsibilities included washing, cutting and styling clients' hair, giving advice and maintaining records and stock control.

But Niki's path was not an easy one, because six months before her course ended, her grandmother, whom she lived with, died.

Niki said: "I had lived with my nan since I was 10, after my family emigrated to Australia.

"After turning 18, with encouragement from my nan, I decided to pursue a career in hairdressing. She was very supportive and offered financial help.

"Sadly she died unexpectedly six months ago, leaving me alone. With no immediate relatives in the country, I organised her funeral with the help of a family friend.

"Not only did I find myself bereft but also in a financially unstable position, as nan and I lived in rented council accommodation."

She said: "Initially, I was told I would have to move out but despite my sadness, I was determined not to let it affect my work.

"Although I found it difficult to cope financially on an apprentice's salary, I knew once I gained my qualification, my earning potential would increase and I could begin to support myself."

Sue Carless, who was Niki's training assessor at the college, said: "Niki was a fantastic student to work with.

"I nominated her for the East of England Apprenticeship Bright Spark Personal Achiever of the Year award because I believe she showed a maturity and resilience beyond her years in coping with the difficult and heartbreaking circumstances she found herself in.

"Niki did not let her bereavement affect the quality of her salon or college work and she always pushed herself to the best of her ability.

"She made many sacrifices and suffered hardships that a young woman of her age would rarely experience."

* The Learning and Skills Council funds apprenticeships. Log onto www.apprenticeships.org.uk for more information.

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