My name is Molly Rayner, I live in East Harling in Norfolk and I studied Hairdressing at West Suffolk College. I’m now out in the world as a self-employed stylist.
You can check out my Instagram account at: hair.by.mollyr
Growing up I was very active, but when I reached year 7 I began to suffer with mild joint pains, but I carried on with my day-to-day life. Later on into year 10 I dislocated my shoulder multiple times. It was from then that I found out that I had hypermobility and it could cause my joints to hyperextend. This was the cause of my pain and set me back in some of my lessons as I was having time off to attend hospital appointments.
I managed to get through my GCSEs and passed the majority of them. When I began college, I started suffering with pains in my hips, and it was during my first year of college that I found out that I had a deformity in my hips, which would require a steroid injection to try and ease my pain. However, unfortunately due to the Covid lockdown, I was unable to receive this until two years later. By that point I was beginning to learn how to live with the pain.
When I began college I didn’t know anyone on my course and I found it really difficult to make friends, I felt very much like an outsider, but I didn’t let this stop me as I knew I had found my passion. Going through the different levels of hairdressing, I began to find that everyone who actually wanted to be there began to talk more and socialise better with everyone. This made me feel like I had found my second family as by the time I came to do my level 3, our class size had dramatically reduced, but this meant that we could work together better and support and encourage everyone more.
In school, I was a very hands-on learner, I liked being creative and hated having to write loads of essays. I knew I wanted to do a technical course so I could be more engaged in my learning.
I found out about WorldSkills competitions because West Suffolk college is a WorldSkills UK Centre of Excellence and my tutors always encouraged us to enter various different competitions. I had competed in a few competitions and been successful so my tutor recommended that I should enter.
I first competed regionally in June 2022 and went on to compete in the National Finals in November the same year when I achieved a highly-commended certificate. I’m now in Squad UK and hope to make it into Team UK to compete in Gdansk in 2023.
My favourite part about taking part in WorldSkills UK Competitions was the atmosphere. Everyone was so invested in their work and all had the same passion and strive to do well. The tutors from other colleges were so friendly and encouraging to everyone, not only their own students which gives you confidence in what you’re doing.
During the National Finals, I struggled in our first competition, because I had issues with my electrical equipment, so I had to adapt for the future ones and used the negativity that filled my mind from the first one, to fuel me to do better in the rest of the days to follow.
Through being involved with WorldSkills UK Competitions, I’ve learned not to take myself so seriously and understand there will be areas that I struggle in and others will exceed in,
however you can’t over-think too much and can just ask for feedback from people as no one is going to be harsh, it’s all constructive criticism which will help you for the future.
Since competing I have been able to return to college, not only for myself, but also to support and encourage other students to enter competitions, and by keeping a close connection to my college, I hope to be able to encourage not only hairdressing students, but students in different skills too.
Doing the competition has made me realise how much support I have around me from all the people connected to my life, not just family but friends too. This has helped my clientele, as I’ve been able to share so much more of my journey online and people have realised that I’m worth paying for.
My future goal is to have my own salon eventually, but for short-term goals, I just want to use my experiences to encourage other people to put yourself out there and enter any competition that you can.
To anyone thinking about entering a WorldSkills UK competition, I would say – don’t let your mind stop you. It can be very daunting putting yourself forward for a big competition, but it can open so many doors, which would stay shut if you don’t try. I always like to say as well that if you are new to competitions, then you can be quite out of your comfort zone and doing something like that is the best thing to help you progress because it will push you to new levels that you wouldn’t think you would be able to get to. Also, take any feedback that you can because a great way to improve your skills, is talking to the professionals in your skill.