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Highfields School and Lydia Clare Hairdressing named winner and highly commended in Newark Business Awards employer of the year category





A great work-life balance, team support and employee benefits led Highfields School to the podium in the Employer of The Year category.

The small independent school operates as a not-for-profit organisation, established by local families in 1945.

The family-feel is still key to the school, with everyone in the team working towards the same goals, and high retention rate meaning there’s lots of familiar faces.

Employer of the Year winners, Highfields School.
Employer of the Year winners, Highfields School.

Staff at Highfields benefit from a Wellbeing Policy and Menopause Policy, an approachable senior leadership team, and work-life balance is a priority for staff and pupils alike.

Flexibility is valued and staff of all levels of seniority often chip in to help — whether photocopying or pouring tea at events — ensuring the team can work smoothly.

The senior leadership team also encourage development and career progression, enabling staff to work to their strengths and move positions internally to pursue their passions.

Meals for staff are free, and the support continues for employees on long term sick leave, including providing family meals, care hampers and ongoing emotional support, even transport and moral support for medical appointments.

Staff are thanked for their hard work, and the team celebrates and supports each other through life events.

Employer of the Year category winners Highfields School, with Penny Taylor of sponsors Newark College.
Employer of the Year category winners Highfields School, with Penny Taylor of sponsors Newark College.

A staff survey showed that 100% staff feel happy, are confident and skilled in their roles.

Head Sarah Lyons said: “We were up against some big players in Newark, we’re so grateful for the opportunity to raise the profile of our team’s work.

“This is really special for the team and also for our families.”

Operations manager Sue Beaumont added: “We didn’t expect it at all, we’re thrilled to be here.”

A hairdresser who swapped competition for collaboration after setting up her own salon was highly commended in the category.

Highly-commended in the Employer of the Year category were Lydia Clare Hairdressing, pictured with Penny Taylor, of sponsors Newark College.
Highly-commended in the Employer of the Year category were Lydia Clare Hairdressing, pictured with Penny Taylor, of sponsors Newark College.

Lydia Mason set up Lydia Clare Hairdressing in 2021, brining years of experience working in salons in Lincolnshire to her own business in Newark.

But, what she didn’t bring was the expectation stylists should look a certain way or compete against each other which she had experienced in some past teams.

Instead the salon is a supportive space where the team build each other up and accept each other regardless of their backgrounds, sexuality, gender and beliefs — in turn creating a welcoming atmosphere for customers.

The team of five stylists range from 21 to 43-years-old, and Lydia said she is proud to say they all share the same ethos.

For her, it is more than a business, but also a safe space for everyone.

The salon also attracts stylists looking to work in the environment and deliver high-quality services, with Lydia holding regular meetings to support them to build their skills and ensure their work is meticulous — even providing moral support in joining the Loreal Colour Trophy competition together to help boost their confidence.



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