MANSFIELD Woodhouse mum Pat Jennings may be a little older than the average student hairdresser but is proving she can still cut it as she completed her training on Friday.
Fifty-eight-year-old Pat has always harboured ambitions to become a hairdresser but has spent the last 21 years as a full time carer for her son Peter who is severely autistic.
Now she and her husband are in the final stages of setting up a supported living arrangement for Peter so the mum-of-two has more time to devote to her new career.
After starting a nine-month training course in all aspects of hairdressing at West Notts College’s Academy on Regent Street last Easter, Pat qualified as a hairdresser this week.
“I’ve been a carer for 21 years but have always wanted to go into hairdressing but being a full-time carer has always stopped me,” she said.
“Because I have been a carer for so long my life has been wrapped in a bubble, I felt like I was stuck in the 1980s and couldn’t move forward.
“I’ve always had to stay at home for years but coming here has been fantastic. On the first day I was ready to run straight back out of the door but I settled in and all the tutors here and staff from West Notts College have been fantastic and very supportive - although some are old enough to be my daughters.”
The Academy is West Notts College’s hair and beauty training salon and Pat has spent almost a year being trained in all aspects of the profession.
“You have to work very hard here, you have to put the effort in, I’ve not had a single day off since I started,” added Pat.
“I always try and give the clients what they want and I’ve learnt lots from the other girls.”
Pat says you are never too old to learn and is urging others who may be considering a new career to have a go.
“I have friend in their forties and they say they would like to try hairdressing and I tell them that I am older than them and they should go for it,” she added.
“This has added a new dimension to my life and I’ve made a lot of friends.
“I’m now planning to set up my own mobile hairdressing business, I think I will be ok when I get my first clients.
“I know a lot about autism and if there is anyone with a disabled child and they need their hair cut I can help because I know, from experience, it’s not easy.”
Kylie Devlin, communications support worker in Additional Learning Support at West Notts College, said: “She has come on leaps and bounds and is a different person to when she first started and has gained so much confidence.
Her husband Rob added: “Hairdressing makes good use of her balance of creativity and practicality and her outgoing and friendly personality should also be a great asset in setting up a mobile hairdressing business.”
l Any potential mature students can contact Pat at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.happyhairdresser.co.uk.