Heather Fensom: Teacher of the Year

Heather Fensom

By Shane Tyas

It’s a widely known saying that ‘Those who can, teach’ and those words certainly ring true in the case of this inspiring lady.

Nominated as “Teacher of the Year” for the Argus Achievement Awards 2013, Heather Fensom has certainly accomplished a great deal in her four decades as a Hairdressing Teacher in Sussex.

Gaining her teaching qualifications at Brighton College of Technology, Heather started her teaching career right here in City College in 1972, teaching students the art of hairdressing for 25 years.

Rachel Turner, Team Leader at the College’s hair-dressing department, said of her old colleague “Heather was always a pleasure to work with, she’s efficient, informative, and always knew what she was doing”

After retiring from City College in 1997, Heather went on to teach part-time at Central Sussex College for 16 years before retiring properly this year in June.

Having the pleasure of meeting Mrs Fensom at her home in Patcham, she graciously spoke about her experiences in teaching and being a nominee for teacher of the year.

After her daughter contacted the Argus, Mrs Fensom admitted “I was completely taken aback when I first found out I was nominated, I was certainly surprised so many people still remember me over the years”.

Indeed, over the 41 years, Mrs Fensom had taken a great number of students under her wing, and under her tutelage, some have grown on to be very successful.

Robert Rousseau, an ex-student of Heather’s, is now Chief Advisor for Hairdressing to WorldSkills International, and travelling the world frequently.

Another Ex-student, Adele Simkin-Baldwin, went on to become hairdressers’ student rep for Great Britain in Helsinki.

On hearing about the successes of several of her former students, Mrs Fensom exclaimed “It’s amazing! I’m absolutely thrilled for them, their success is my success, and I feel as though I have learned from them as much they have learned from me”.

Over the years, Heather has never lost her enthusiasm in teaching trainee hairdressers the tricks of the trade, the secret to this? She has always loved what she does.

“I just feel incredibly lucky “she said “It’s like I’ve been paid for a hobby and I’ve always kept up to date with those I taught”.

With so many new hairdressers and stylists starting up each year round the country, I asked Mrs Fensom what advise she would give to young apprentices hoping to pursue a career in this competitive field, her response “Learn the basics thoroughly  and build on them and don’t be afraid of a little competition”.

Now retired and happily married for 51 years, with 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren, Heather Fensom has certainly achieved a great deal in her long years of teaching, she has inspired generations of hairdressers to build fulfilling and profitable careers in a challenging profession.

With the awards soon to be announced, fingers crossed for her potentially winning Teacher of the Year, she definitely has my vote.


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