A talented former student has been crowned the world’s top young visual merchandiser. Kirsty Hoadley, who recently completed a retail and merchandising display course at the Windsor College, won the gold medal for visual merchandising at WorldSkills London 2011 – the world’s largest international skills competition for young people.
Kirsty (20, from Slough) showcased her skills by designing, planning and creating two stunning window displays as part of the four-day competition at ExCel London. Beating contenders from across the globe, Kirsty was presented with her medal at a prestigious Olympics-style closing ceremony at The O2 Arena.
Overwhelmed by the win, Kirsty said: “I am over the moon with the result. It’s great to see all the hard work and training has paid off. The entire experience has been fantastic. I’ve met some amazing people, made lots of industry contacts and learnt so much.”
“I owe a lot to my lecturers at East Berkshire College. It is because of them that I got involved in this competition and they have supported me throughout. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I started College, but they believed in me and taught me how to channel my creativity. Going to college really has changed my life.”
As part of her preparation for WorldSkills, Kirsty was given the opportunity to work with visual merchandising teams for Debenhams, Selfridges and Harrods.
“This competition has opened so many doors for me” explains Kirsty. “A lot of companies have approached me about my work and possible projects. I’ve also been accepted on a visual merchandising course at the London College of Fashion. Winning WorldSkills is such an achievement and I hope it will help raise the profile of visual merchandising as a career.”
More than 1,000 young people from 52 countries took part in the event, competing in 46 skill areas from bricklaying to web design. Over 200,000 visitors, which included the Prime Minister David Cameron and Skills Minister John Hayes, watched the competitors battle it out.
Sue Leadbeater, lecturer at East Berkshire College, enthuses: “We are all very proud of Kirsty. It has been great to see her progress and grow over her time at the college. Her gold medal win is deserved recognition for her skills, professionalism and dedication. She is a very talented individual with a bright future ahead of her.”
The College’s Retail and Merchandising Display Department, which is based at the Windsor College, is a centre of excellence for display design. The courses are highly respected within the industry, having received several awards from the British Display Society. Former students have gone onto successful careers with leading retailers such as Harrods, John Lewis and Debenhams.