STRANGEWAYS hair salon, in Leigh, is celebrating after being named one of the top 100 apprentice employers in the country.

The salon’s apprentices have gained recognition in numerous national competitions over the past 18 months and the company even won a Southend Business Award for staff training and development.

Now the National Apprentice Service has recognised Strangeways as one of the top 100 businesses from more than 1,600 entrants in the National Apprenticeship Awards.

The accolade rewards businesses for “growing their own talent and displaying the highest standard of excellence in employing apprentices”.

Training director Jill Kitchenham is based at the Jet Hair Academy, in Basildon, but regularly visits Strangeways salon and its apprentices.

She said: “We’re very proud of our trainees’ achievements. It’s always nice to see one of them succeed with their own business.

“We take people from everywhere.

We’re really passionate about training.”

That passion is clearly passed on to their apprentices as seven former trainees are now fully qualified tutors and assessors with other training providers.

Former apprentice Hannah Stoneman is still employed with Strangeways as a stylist, and three other former trainees now own their own salons.

The new apprentices are taught by trainer, assessor and salon director Nadine Rogers, who thinks the in-house assessment is key to their success.

She said: “Other places have to take their apprentices away to be assessed, at Strangeways it’s all in the one place.

“They get taught the Strangeways way and we include more technical aspects as well, not just what they need to pass their NVQ.”

Nadine has been with Strangeways for more than ten years and has taught apprentices for four years.

She said: “I love teaching. It’s one of the favourite parts of my job.

“It’s fantastic to see the boys and girls we train going on to win awards and set up their own businesses.

“It’s a fun environment to work in too. You get a high turnover of staff in hairdressing, but it’s great to see people we trained stay on in the salon with us.”