Tyne Metropolitan College (TyneMet) hairdressing students Sam Morley and Amanda Brierley proved a cut above when they supported an award-winning North East barber to complete a 24-hour charity challenge.
They were on hand to help Tom Baxter, the region’s first Master Barber, keep his North Tyneside salon clean and tidy and ensure clients were given the VIP treatment for his around-the-clock cutting session.
Their other duties for part of the Sunday, April 29 to Monday, April 30 event included preparing customers for their cut by washing their hair and directing them into British Master Barber 2017 Tom’s chair for styling.
Amanda, 28, and Sam, 33, who are level 2 learners, spent seven hours helping at his Coast Road salon.
Both volunteered to be part of the ‘Baxter Barberthon’, in which around 50 people went under Tom’s blade in aid of the Tiny Lives Trust, a charity based at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI).
Tiny Lives Trust needs £250,000 a year to care for premature and sick new-born babies, their mothers and families in the RVI’s Special Care Baby Unit of the Newcastle Neonatal Service.
All who enjoyed a trim by Tom, whose clients include MTV stars and Newcastle United and Sunderland footballers, was asked to donate the equivalent of a full price cut, with £2,300 being raised.
As well as showing their benevolent side, Sam and Amanda also benefited by seeing Tom, 32, in action close up, gaining important insight that can boost their CVs.
Sam said: “Being part of this event was hard work but also a wonderful experience. Tom is a real professional, and it was great to be able to work so closely with him during part of this challenge.
“It was obviously good experience for me, but I am also happy to have been part of something that raised money for Tiny Lives.”
And Amanda added: “I’m really enjoying my course at TyneMet and it is fantastic that opportunities like this arise from it.
“Sam and I get on well in the classroom and I like to think that we combined to good effect on the day.
“Tom was constantly busy and didn’t stop, I think he really appreciated that we had given up our time to help out.”
Tom chose to support Tiny Lives Trust due to his long-standing friendship with event organiser Naomi Elliott, 32, a policewoman and owner of events company, MN Events and Occasions.
He is godfather to Naomi’s two-year-old son Jacob, who suffered a rare heart defect in utero and spent time on the Neonatal and Special Care Baby Unit at Newcastle's RVI.
Tom said: “It’s fair to say that I would have struggled to complete this challenge without Amanda and Sam’s great help.
“Cutting so many people’s hair was challenging enough, and it would have been so much harder if they hadn’t been here to do the other essentials.
“They were able to get my clients prepared and ready for me, and of course they also kept the salon in good order.
“I hope that seeing me work so closely has added to their knowledge of what it takes to work in this industry.
“By giving up their time, they proved they have the dedication to learn, which is very important.”
Lynne Adair, Trainer in Hairdressing at TyneMet said several students had wanted to be part of the event.
She added: “Amanda and Sam were selected – they recognised it as being of value to their learning and potentially to their future careers.
“It was great for them to be able to work alongside such a fantastic barber as Tom and to see how he operates.
“His salon was packed out and the girls found it to be highly creative environment to be part of.
“They washed clients’ hair, swept up and helped with the refreshments – basically, they helped keep everything ticking over.
“As well as looking good on their CVs, they know the importance of the event in raising money for such a great cause.
“They are mums themselves, which added to their determination to take part. Their efforts were quite phenomenal, as was Tom’s.”
Naomi, from Cullercoats, was looked after by the RVI for eight weeks before Jacob was born and also afterwards.
It was time enough for her to build up a good relationship with staff and to plot ways she could help the unit’s fundraising efforts.
She added: “I’ve fundraised for Tiny Lives before and wanted to do more, and Tom also wanted to play his part.
“It was great to have Amanda and Sam along for most of the Sunday, they played a really important part in keeping everything ticking over.
“Tom was very pleased to have their help and support and hopes that they benefited from the experience.”
Sam and Amanda plan to progress onto a level 3 programme in the next academic year.