Month: February 2016

The beauty of a perfect career change – Lucy’s story

In her teenage years, Lucy Yoxen had a strong interest in beauty therapy and had Lucy Yoxen 2 cropconsidered it as a career but after leaving school, she ended up taking a very different path
– working in IT as a graphic and web designer. Making the decision to come to City College as a mature student in 2013 to study Level 2 Beauty Therapy was Lucy’s first daunting step towards a career change but it proved to be a shrewd move.

Once she embarked on the course, with much support and encouragement from her tutors, Lucy quickly demonstrated great aptitude for the subject. With growing confidence in her skills, she progressed onto the Level 3 course in 2014 and having gained much hands-on experience of dealing with customers in the College’s City Revival training salons, Lucy felt ready to take her next big step – becoming a self-employed beauty therapist.

In February, during the second term, I managed to secure a beauty room at Withdean Sports Complex and it was an opportunity that I couldn’t let slip through my fingers,” she recalls. “So, I launched Withdean Beauty Room and started treating clients almost immediately. It was extremely hard as I was at College two full days a week and working every hour possible to build up the business. Also, being a single mother to a three year old at the time, I certainly had my work cut out for me! Even though it was challenging, opening up the doors to my salon was incredibly rewarding and exciting. Knowing I had done this all myself, I felt so proud of my achievements and the hard work I’d put into my new career.”

While coping with the demands of her fledgling business and being a single mum, Lucy achieved her Level 3 qualification at the College which was another personal landmark: “I believed in myself and knew the skills I’d learnt at the College gave me the confidence to continue building my business. The salon’s been open for two years now, and I’m forever grateful to City College and all the tutors who helped me throughout my time there. The attention to detail and the level of training was outstanding. I wouldn’t be where I am now had it not been for my tutors and the College itself.” 

But being at the College wasn’t just about achieving the all-important professional qualification – it was also about the people she met there: “My fondest memories are of my fellow students because we had so much fun together. I’ve made a lovely group of friends who I still keep in touch with and we support each other’s growing careers. We worked hard together and everyone was friendly and gave you support if and when you needed it. We also loved hanging out in the College refectory on breaks, whether we were studying or just catching up… fun times!”

As for the day-to-day realities of running her own business, what aspect does Lucy enjoy most? The most rewarding moment I get, every single day, is making people happy,” she says. “It’s all about helping people to feel special and pampered in the relaxing and calm atmosphere that I’ve created.” 

Having achieved the ambition of running her own business, Lucy now aims to expand it and is also looking into developing her own beauty product range. But what advice would she give to current students?

“Invest your time in something you really enjoy,” she says. “Once you find that, you will dedicate your time wholeheartedly, which will reap its rewards in the end. Also, work hard and never be afraid to believe in your own ability. You really can do anything if you set your mind to it!” 

For more information on Beauty Therapy courses at City College, call 01273 667759, email or see

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Lessons in overcoming adversity – Meeting Paul Jacobs

By George Spiller 

We’re pleased to share the following article, written by former City College Prince’s Trust TEAM member George Spiller, who has overcome his own problems with anxiety and depression and is now thriving on a Politics & Philosophy degree at the University of Southampton…

Anxiety and Depression amongst young people in today’s society is, unfortunately, increasingly prevalent. Many people go through a phase in their lives where they get into a Paul Jacobs and George Spiller 15 web
vicious circle of feeling down and bad about themselves. What is important to realise, however, is that it is just a phase and not a defining part of our life and character. Through working hard to change your outlook and being involved in positive day to day activities and experiences, no matter how small, you can move on from feeling bad and start to live a much more happy and fulfilled life.

This is where I’d like to introduce Paul Jacobs. I met Paul at the Blind Veterans UK centre at Ovingdean (known locally as St Dunstans) to have a chat with him about his incredible life and the adversity and many challenges he has overcome. In 2009, when he was just 19, Paul was a Rifleman in the British Army’s 2nd Battalion the Rifles. After leading a routine patrol in the same district where half his platoon were injured or killed just weeks earlier in the bomb ridden streets of Afghanistan, Paul and his men came across a multitude of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) whilst trying to clear a safe route with a hand held mine detector. The explosions were devastatingly sudden and instantly killed a colleague as Paul rushed to try and save him , desperately pulling him back all the while dodging more IEDs. A second colleague bravely coming to help then triggered a second blast and was also killed instantly. A cloud of shrapnel rained down on Paul hitting him in the right eye and lodging into his brain. Bleeding seriously from multiple injuries, he managed to drag himself to safety to make sure those coming to rescue him would not be in danger. After waking up in hospital in Birmingham a few weeks later, he realised he was completely blind.

My conversation with Paul started in an upbeat manner, getting to know each other through a good bit of general banter before I asked him about his latest challenge – an Ironman Triathlon, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon (26.2-mile) run, raced in that order and without a break. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world. This would only add to his list of achievements which include being decorated with the George Medal for bravery, climbing Kilimanjaro, cycling 500 miles, travelling route 66, skydiving and running a few marathons. Add to this raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity, his help in setting up the organisation Team Escapade which creates extreme challenges for both the able bodied and disabled military veterans and his lust for life seemingly knows no bounds. He also hopes to compete in the Paralympics in 2016.

When asked where he gets such drive and vigour from, he tells me matter-of-factly:

 “Because I was a soldier, and I got taught you’ve got to adapt and overcome anything put in front of you. Whether it’s a brick wall mentally or physically, you’ve got to overcome it. Go round it, go over it, or go under it.

“And growing up on the streets of South London as a foster kid. I’ve been fighting all my life.

“I was in my first council flat at 15 down in Brixton just off Electric Avenue. You come out your door and at the bottom of the road they’re selling crack and you’ve only got to catch their eye and they think you could be Old Bill.

“By the time I was 16 I was arrested and banged up in magistrate’s court. I lost my brother in 2002 to the prison system. I joined the Army and just as I was in training my old man dropped down dead. Ever since that I’ve just been fighting. You have to fight to maintain what you’ve got.

Paul then reminisced about how he was told in the magistrate’s court “why don’t you do something for yourself like joining the Army?” and how it stuck in his head. After a trip to Nelson’s Column he got into a conversation about the Lord Admiral with a stranger who asked him if he knew where Nelson had started from:

“He was just a humble priest’s son. He started off with nothing. And that made me think well if that poor little ****er could do it then dear old Ginge can do it too.”

Such an attitude has thus been drummed into Paul over and over again. An attitude of unwavering self belief and dogged determination that allows him to overcome circumstances that would make most of us crumble, and achieve things most couldn’t imagine. Moving on, I asked Paul what he thought about people getting overly stressed in everyday life compared to having to cope with extreme situations in the Army:

“My best friend was 18, six weeks after his 18th birthday he died in my arms. The last thing he saw was me.

“We’re so used to everything being on time. We’re programmed by the chip. That’s society. Everything we do is turned on by a chip or accessible by a chip and we expect the train to be there by 16 minutes past three. We expect that because that’s what our phones tell us.

“But that’s not how the world runs. To create a rainbow you need sunshine and rain so with everything in life, there’s good with bad and bad with good.”

I then asked about Paul’s unrelenting charity work and how he copes with the challenges he faces despite being unable to see:

“You’ve got sight George, so when you’re out running, you can say ‘right, today I’m going to get to the third lamppost’ you can see that by the time you’ve got past the first lamppost and the second lamppost you can already see what you’re aiming towards.

“Whereas to me, in every step I take, I’m oblivious to how many steps I’ve got to keep on taking. I’ve got to have constant mind games with myself.”

Paul told me that having constant “chit-chat” in his ear often helps him paint a mental image and allows him to focus on his goal. He then proceeded to draw the exact layout of the room we were in on my hand as referenced from what people had told him.

As our conversation came to a close, Paul brought up one final sentiment which resonated with me particularly strongly as we talk about our mutual love for music:

“Music is the soul of everybody’s life. And that will either make you feel good, sad or bad. Everyone’s got a collection of sad music. Sometimes I want a day where I just want to be chilled out and a little bit sad to remember people who are no longer with us.”

From this we talk about how being sad or down from time to time is a ‘natural order’ and something that you need to let happen without judgement. “We have to listen to our bodies” says Paul.

Meeting Paul was a humbling experience. His courage, candour and optimism are truly inspiring and have reaffirmed my belief in positive thinking.

Of course, Paul as well as being an incredibly brave man is also a sensitive and thoughtful one. He would be the first to admit that professional and personal support, as well as strong friendships, has been incredibly important to him since losing his sight. No matter what you are going through, nobody gets better by themselves. Interacting and laughing with other people can mean so much and it is the good relationships we form in life that ultimately make our time here worthwhile. A simple chat can be the catalyst to not only recovering but finding a new lust for life that you never knew you had. It is not only the destination that we are travelling to which defines us but the character we choose to build along the way. I’ll leave the final word to Paul:

“You’ve got to wake up every day with a positive attitude and say to yourself ‘ how can I, and when will I be, better than what I am today?”

For more details on the Prince’s Trust TEAM programme at City College, email


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Isaac At Pop-up Pride

Let’s face it, if you’re local to Brighton, you have probably already heard about Isaac At, and if you haven’t, we’re sure news of this fantastic independent restaurant will be reaching you soon!

Since their launch in spring 2015, the Isaac At team have gone from strength to strength and are certainly proving their worth in the culinary whirlwind that is the Brighton foodie scene.

Isaac and George have put their City College training to exceptional use and are now Isaac@The Gallery Feb 16talented chefs and restaurateurs, who we expect will go on to achieve great success. Not only are they talented but they are also lovely young people, who wanted to put something back into the community by sharing their skills, knowledge and experience with our current Catering & Hospitality students. We love to see our students flourish, and as you can imagine, we were delighted when Isaac At dream team and City College graduates Issac Bartlett-Copeland and George Thomas decided to return to where it all began, to bring an Isaac At Pop-up to City College’s own restaurant, The Gallery.

I was lucky enough to bag a table for the hotly-anticipated five course tasting menu and took along with me the most discerning food critic I know, my mother.

So, what did we eat and was it any good?

I had expected our students to do us proud and I was not disappointed – the service was excellent and the food was heavenly.

Our meal started with freshly baked treacle & stout bread and caramelised shallot brioche, which were still warm when they arrived at our table, my favourite was the caramelised onion brioche, which was both moreish and comforting… yum.

Our appetiser was a mackerel tartare which was delicious, but surprisingly the stand-out element to this dish was the marinated cucumber, which set off the savoury flavours of the fish perfectly.

Next came our starter – a bright, pleasing dish of roast carrot, puffed rice and carrot & Isaac@Pop-up-picstar anise puree. My mum loved the starter and was very impressed with the contrasting textures of, roast, pureed and braised carrot paired with the crunchy puffed rice. All-in-all the starter was full of flavour and went down a treat!

Now, I can’t comment on the veggie option as both of us went for the lamb main course but, the lamb was incredible. I kid you not when I say it was the most delicious meat dish I have had in a long while. It was cooked to perfection, and you could tell it was exceptional quality (which I can now verify after googling the suppliers, Westdene Butchers!)  Perfect. Just perfect.

I enjoyed our main course so much I did think the dessert might be a disappointment but our students held their own and proved me wrong! Poached pears and ice cream is something I often see on menus, and it is usually very nice, this dessert however came with a cardamom infused caramel brittle, the flavours were intense and exciting, which made this dessert very special indeed.

To finish the evening, our lovely waiter presented us with coffee and delicate petit fours of lemon & almond drizzle cake and fennel shortbread with chocolate ganache. Lots of people in my life claim to make the best lemon drizzle – sorry guys, this one wins hands down. It was vibrant and zesty and the perfect end to a lovely evening.

All in all my night at The Gallery made me brim with pride at the achievements of our students. The food was excellent and our attentive hospitality students ensured we were very well looked after.

If you get a chance, I would thoroughly recommend treating yourself to a dinner at Isaac, and George’s elegant and brightly charming restaurant on Gloucester Street – you won’t be disappointed!

If you are looking for a fine dining experience on a shoestring, then look no further than the College’s Gallery Restaurant, where you will find restaurant-quality food for a fraction of the price. For reservations and further information, please contact Restaurant Co-ordinator Stacey Pederson on

Rheanna Davidge-Huxley

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Boost your business with AAT Apprenticeships

For local firms considering taking on an accountancy apprentice or keen to boost current AAT_studentsemployees’ accountancy skills and knowledge, AAT Apprenticeships, delivered by City College Brighton and Hove, enable staff to learn practical accounting processes and important communication skills. These skills can be applied directly in the workplace, helping to make staff more rounded, effective and committed team players.

“We’ve had four AAT apprentices working for the company in the last four years and they’ve always made a great contribution to our business,” says Carol Lewis, Director of Bainbridge Lewis Chartered Accountants. “We’ve found that they’re very keen to learn and help us grow the business and their energy uplifts the whole team in the office. As well as enabling staff to progress within the company, we’ve also had apprentices who’ve gone on to University and I feel proud that our business has helped young people with their education. The team at City College have always been amazingly helpful and have found us brilliant apprentices and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone looking to take on an apprentice of their own.”

If you are interested in recruiting an AAT Apprentice for an April start or would like more information, please contact Jean Travis: or 07595 279922

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