It was almost by accident that Jade first started competing, but fate, playing its part well, stepped in and from that point on Jade never looked back. As a result, in November 2007, she headed to Japan as part of Team UK for WorldSkills 2007 competing in the Beauty Therapy competition and achieving a Medallion for Excellence.
So how did Jade get into competing?
Well, this happened when Jade was at college. In fact she was thrown into the deep end when another competitor couldn’t make it and Jade’s teacher asked her to take her place. She did and although nervous about competing against 17 other girls, her skills shone through and she won the gold medal, which allowed her to compete at the national competition before being told she was going to be considered for WorldSkills.
Jade says: “When UK Skills told me they were going to think about putting me on the shortlist for Japan I was really upset – I assumed that they thought I’d not been very good and were only saying that to be polite!”
Was waiting to find out if she’d got a place on the team hard for Jade? She says it was nerve racking. “Competing in the selection competition was terrifying. I meet the other two competitors up for the spot and realised that one of them had beaten me at an earlier competition, which made me even more worried.” Again though, Jade’s skills won out and after a tough three days of competing, she was selected for Team UK.
What about all the training?
Jade runs her own beauty salon so was lucky that she could plan her work schedule around training. “My clients were really helpful and supportive. It was a journey for them too. They were certainly just as excited as I was!!” Training was very intense with Jade at times living out of a suitcase as she travelled up and down the country to train with leading beauticians and gain the skills she needed. It even took her on a trip to Japan, visiting a beauty show to get a better understanding of how the beauty industry works there.
How did Jade cope in Japan? Because Jade had visited Japan earlier in the year she wasn’t as nervous as the rest of team about being in a totally new environment. She immediately got down to business and concentrated on the job at hand. “Competing was intense, every night I felt like crying! It is such an emotional rollercoaster, but that’s where the team come in. We cheered each other up and gave each other encouragement. They know what you’re going through so it’s much easier.”
What about the results?
Jade did exceptionally well, all her hard work paid off and she was awarded a Medallion for Excellence. “I am really, really pleased with my result but I am frustrated that I didn’t win a medal position. I was doing really well but then on the last day I made a mistake which cost me five points and which dropped me to 4th place. It will live with me for the rest of my life.” But Jade says it with a smile on her face and the knowledge that she’s achieved great things.
So what’s happened since Jade got home?
Well things have certainly moved on for Jade. She has become quite the local celebrity having appeared numerous times in her local papers and on the TV! She hopes to become an Assistant Training Manager for UK Skills, helping other young people succeed in competitions and at work things have changed too.
“Since returning, my clientele has increased a huge amount and you can see a difference in my confidence and self-belief. I think this is the most important change for me because before being involved with WorldSkills, these were my weakest areas.”
What advice would Jade give to others wanting to take part?
“Do it! I’d jump at the chance to be able to compete again. It’s the best experience of your life and the people you meet will stay your friends for a life time.”
“I would never have achieved what I have done without the experience of WorldSkills and UK Skills. What they do is so important. They make people understand that there are talented young people in our country with great ability in their chosen skills. Where else do you get anything like that? It’s just fantastic.”