A hairdresser is in the running for a national award in recognition of her efforts to support her community.
Zoe Gaitley, who runs Hair n Beauty in Castleford, has been invited to a glittering awards ceremony in Birmingham after making it through to the finals of the National Hairdressing Federation Business Awards.
She entered the competition in the ‘best community support’ section and judges chose her salon as one of the final five in the category, after being impressed by her work to improve Smawthorne.
Mrs Gaitley said:“I’m really excited, I didn’t ever think I would make it through. I’m looking forward to going down to Birmingham in November and representing Castleford.”
The salon has raised money for local and national causes including the Jane Tomlinson Appeal and has also signed up to a new scheme supporting women who have experienced domestic violence.
Six years ago, Mrs Gaitley also formed residents group the Smawthorne Welfare Action Team (SWAT).
The group set about raising funds to make improvements to the community, in particular Smawthorne Park. They have brightened up the children’s play area, installed a bench in honour of Craig Hopson - a Castleford soldier killed in Afghanistan, planted bulbs and installed bird boxes.
They have also held several events celebrating “community spirit, fun and laughter” including a picnic in the park for the Queen’s birthday and the annual Smawthorne Gala.
Mrs Gaitley said: “My main, and the salon’s, focus these past six years has been in improving the local community.
“Since the closure of the pits, the town has slowly declined losing both its identity and sense of community.”
The 42-year-old added: “I feel, along with the salon and SWAT, that through our efforts we are putting the heart back into Smawthorne and doing our bit to help regenerate parts of Castleford that so desperately need it.”
Castleford Councillor Richard Forster said: “Without the commitment of Zoe with her great aspirations for the park and the wider community it would be a much less happier place to live, work and run a business.”