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Hair@theAcademy based in Exeter, have been named as winning, not one but two categories in the National Collective Prides Awards! Mary Pugsley MBE is the winner of ‘Exceptional Educator’ and Tyler Gray takes the award for ‘Against the Odds’ at the brand-new Collective Pride Awards, sponsored by Professional Beauty. 

Launched by mental wellbeing and suicide prevention charityThe Lions Barber Collective, the Collective Pride Awards recognise the hard work of unsung hair and beauty heroes across the UK, in eight categories – those who not only deliver exceptional services day in, day out, but go the extra mile to help others in a time of need, genuinely making a difference to someone’s life.  

Tom Chapman, founder of The Lions Barber Collective said:

“After losing award-winning barber, LBC Ambassador and friend Sam Wall to suicide last year, I wanted to do something to keep his name alive – celebrating those who really look after their clients and the communities they sit within, as well as those who go above and beyond to make a difference to the industry. I am so proud that Mary and Tyler of Hair@theAcademy have been recognised for the phenomenal work they have been doing within the industry, and work like theirs is the reason the Collective Pride Awards were born.” 

Hair@TheAcademy is the only one of its kind  in the UK, taking vulnerable young people  with complex needs, from all kinds of backgrounds or circumstances into learning a new trade. The academy supports them towards completion of work-ready qualifications, delivering an extensive suite of learning including hairdressing, barbering, customer service and Maths & English, with no prior qualifications necessary.  The exclusive training  programme results in an impressive  95% of our students going onto further education or paid employment and what makes it unique is that it has its own counselling service and social worker as part of the team.  

Tyler and Mary of Hair@theAcademy reflect on their double awards win

Mary Pugsley MBE, a senior state registered hairdresser (SSRH), set up Hair@theAcademy in 2004 and it had always been her dream to support young adults with complex needs, including learners who are vulnerably housed, in the care system, as well as the homeless into gaining professional qualifications. The academy expanded, moving into a larger premises at the end of 2019 and converting it into a stunning  hairdressing salon with the help of a number of Devon-based construction specialists who offered their services for free.  The property was purchased for the Hair@theAcademy by The Incorporation of Weavers, Fullers and Shearman, a local charity that generously supported Mary so she could continue her good works supporting the local community and be able to take on more students.  

Mary said:

“I’m over the moon to receive this award and feel so humble; I couldn’t have done it without the unwavering support of my amazing support team.  The core of our business model is ‘Education to Employment, inspiring vulnerable young people  to achieve.’ If students can’t learn the way we teach then, we teach the way they learn:  Working with students  on a 1:1 basis, we create an individual, personal, and rewarding journey, going way beyond expectations, including  free catch-up courses.”

“Students are excited and proud of passing their exams and becoming fully qualified ; however often feel nervous and full of self-doubt when attending job interviews.  We invite them to come back for a week and recap, helping build their confidence, and reminding them that  they are brilliant!” 

Tyler Gray, a tutor and assessor at Hair@theacademy has been named winner of ‘Against the Odds’.  And it’s a double celebration for this exceptional  young man, as in recognition of his remarkable achievements, and to inspire students to strive to be the best they can be, Tyler was awarded the Hair@theacademy’s first-ever ‘Ambassador of Excellence’ accolade in the spring of 2021. 

Hearing the news he was a winner in the National Collective Prides Awards Tyler said:

“It has been an incredible year for me and being a winner in  the prestigious National Collective Prides Awards is the ‘icing on the cake’; it means the world to me.”   

He adds:

“Constantly bullied and misunderstood at school I  battled with anxiety and mental health issues.  At the age of 15 I was very  lucky to be given the opportunity to enrol at Hair@TheAcademy on a Level 2 award in the hair and beauty sector, and never left!  Five years on, through 1:1 training, ongoing care, and support, I’ve grown in confidence, and proud to be working at the academy as a tutor, as I wanted to give back to help other students achieve their goals.”

“I’m also a part-time carer at a special needs home, supporting adults with severe mental Meath issues.  I’m so grateful to the Hair@theAcademy team for all their ongoing support and encouragement;  it’s been an incredible journey.” 

Tickets to the Awards Ceremony, which is taking place on Monday 4th April 2022 at the Barber Surgeon’s Hall in London. Tickets are now available to purchase via Eventbrite

Photo credit – Glen King (gkpr.) 

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