A Belfast hairdresser has been shortlisted in the 2009 British Hairdressing Awards.
Lee Stinton has been named as a finalist for Northern Ireland Hairdresser of the Year.
And the local stylist is the only non-salon-owner to have made the shortlist.
Lee — who has a dedicated following of clients including local celebrities, models and musicians — is the creative director at Paul Stafford Hairdressing on Belfast's upmarket Lisburn Road.
The salon’s owners, husband and wife team, Paul and Leisa Stafford, have between them won the Northern Ireland category of the awards four times — more than any other hairdressing team in the province.
“The finalists in the awards are, on the whole, salon owners and Lee is breaking that mould as a young contender,” said Paul Stafford.
“We wish him the best of luck and the whole team here will be rooting for him. This is very exciting for all of us.”
Lee now has to wait until November to find out if he has won the trophy.
He's up against tough competition in the form of five highly-skilled and well-known local names in hairdressing, including Keith Kane of Belfast and Kevin Kahan of Bangor.
The awards — the Oscars of the hairdressing world — have been running since 1985 and celebrate creativity and excellence in hairdressing skills.
This year's winners will be announced at a glittering gala event in London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.
Lee, who moved to Stafford Hairdressing a year ago, added: “Just a year ago, before moving, I was considering a change of career as I had become a little jaded by the industry.
“Having made my move to a salon with such a dynamic environment, I could see there was so much more potential for creativity.
“A year later and I’ve been selected as a finalist in the awards.
“This is a vote of confidence in my abilities
as a hairdresser, which I am really grateful for, but it is also very motivational for me personally.”
Salon owner Paul is in the British Hairdressing Awards' Hall of Fame, as he has already won the Northern Ireland Hairdresser of the Year trophy three times, in 1993, 1995 and 2001.
He is just one of 38 hairdressers who have entered the Hall of Fame since the awards began in 1985, along with famous names including Nicky Clarke and Trevor Sorbie.
To enter the competition, hairdressers across Northern Ireland have to submit four images, which fulfil the criteria set by the judges.
Now all eyes are on Lee to see if he can scoop the prize for the salon and, one day, join Paul in the Hall of Fame.
The other finalists in the Northern Ireland Hairdresser of the Year category are John Morrison of JL Morrison, Belfast; Keith Kane of Keith Kane International, Belfast; Kevin Kahan of Kevin Kahan, Bangor; Michael Quinn of Michael Quinn Hairdressing, Belfast; and Simon Houston of Simon Houston Hairdressing, Galgorm.