Adult learner inspired to launch beauty business

Adult student, Sarah Cookson, has suffered with extensive debilitating pain for many years. 

Passionate about helping others with similar disabilities, she embarked on her learning journey at Keighley College to become a qualified beauty therapist, resulting in the opening of her business ‘Healing Hands Holistics’. 

The right choice

Sarah’s medical situation meant she had been out of work for a while, however she had always been interested in beauty and was ready for a new challenge.

“My daughter was studying a media hair and makeup course at Keighley College and it was encouraging to see the college go above and beyond to support her with her education and wellbeing. 

“I was asked by her tutor, Clare Ravenscroft, if I was interested in taking a course. Although I’d been out of education for years and lacked confidence, I thought this could be a fantastic opportunity to rediscover myself and pursue my passion.

“During my time at college, I have studied Complementary Therapies Level 3, Beauty Therapy Level 2 and I’m looking to complete the Counselling Level 3 qualification next year.

“I’m currently studying Beauty Therapy Level 3 and I absolutely love it. My tutors are incredibly knowledgeable and we’ve covered topics such as mechanical massage, gel nails, body analysis, product and service promotions and anatomy.”

The beauty of learning

Although apprehensive about returning to college as a mature student, Sarah felt instantly at ease with the group.

“I have always been made to feel part of my class; everyone is so friendly and supportive – my age has never been a barrier to learning. 

“In addition to my beauty studies, I have also gained my maths GCSE with the college. This subject was always something I struggled with previously, but the teaching methods and support meant I passed with flying colours.

“The college is amazing, we have large classrooms with small class sizes, meaning we get valuable one-to-one time with tutors. There is a real sense of community on campus, each student is made to feel like a person rather than a number.”

Back in business 

Since beginning college, Sarah has gained the skills and confidence to start her own beauty and complementary therapy studio.

“My experience at college has inspired me to open my own studio, Healing Hands Holistics, where I practise all the treatments I’ve learnt during my courses. 

“I suffer with fibromyalgia, spinal arthritis, spinal degeneration and scoliosis – all of which give me extensive debilitating pain. Although I still have many medical, physical and mental health challenges, coming into college has provided an anchor of support and helps me stay focused.

“Because of my own experiences, it’s really important for me to offer treatments for people who have disabilities similar to my own. My learning has allowed me to gain practical knowledge to be able to safely and effectively treat this category of clients, as I know how hard it can be to find therapists who have knowledge on certain medical and physical issues.

 “Coming back to education has reignited my spark, giving me the opportunity to rediscover myself, my abilities and passions.”

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Adult learner wins Student of the Term award

From starting college in 2018, mature student, Claire Jopson, has an inspirational story to tell after overcoming hardships and accomplishing fantastic achievements.

Her determination and eagerness to learn has been admirable, and as a result, she has been recently awarded with Student of the Term.

Inspirational journey

When Claire started her hairdressing course, she was working through some personal problems, but was determined not to let this affect her learning.

“When I first came to Keighley College, I had not long left inpatient treatment for my eating disorder. It’s been something I’ve constantly had to battle with throughout my time at college, but I’m now in recovery and the college has been an incredible anchor of support throughout my journey.

“College has helped readjust my focus and study hard towards my qualifications. The staff have been so supportive and sympathetic, helping me build my confidence and always offering emotional support. 

“I’ve had huge amounts of encouragement and help with work along the way, and the staff have made me realise that my illness doesn’t have to stop me achieving amazing things. My tutor, Clare Ravenscroft, was genuinely committed to my wellbeing and made sure to always check in to see how I was doing.”

Student of the Term

Due to Claire’s impressive resilience and determination, she was awarded Student of the Term.

“I was so overwhelmed to receive this award! I feel very moved with the gesture and I hope this will inspire others with this illness to stay optimistic and show that there is light at the end of the tunnel. My newfound confidence has helped me deliver training at Leeds Beckett University on eating disorders and interventions with students.”

Clare Ravenscroft, Programme Manager at Keighley College, added: “Claire has come on such an immense journey since starting at college. She has overcome some huge obstacles through real perseverance and admirable courage. With 100% attendance, fantastic results and impressive progress, she completely deserves this award.

Passing with flying colours

After passing Level 2 and Level 3 hair, she has achieved a distinction in her first graded beauty practical and is on track for success.

“It had been a while since I properly laughed, but since starting college and making new friends at college I haven’t stopped laughing! I’ve loved seeing other students progress and develop into fantastic hair stylists. I have made some amazing memories which I will forever cherish.

“In the future, I hope to be a qualified hairdresser and beauty therapist, but also continue to provide training on eating disorders and support people on their journey to recovery.”