Student Beth stars in Royal Opera House challenge

A student at Hull’s Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) has been recognised for her outstanding creativity in a high-profile competition run by the Royal Opera House.

Sixth form student Beth Mason’s creative flair was showcased in the Royal Opera House’s annual Design Challenge, a national skills-based competition which gave students chance to work to a live brief inspired by The Barber of Seville opera by Gioachino Rossini.

Beth, 17, was Highly Commended in the wig category of the competition, which saw almost 730 entries across all sections of the challenge.

The Year 12 student was presented with her award by Royal Opera House Chief Executive Alex Beard CBE in a special ceremony at the famous Covent Garden venue in London’s West End.

Beth’s work was also displayed as part of an exhibition at the Royal Opera House, alongside 19 other winners. In addition, she was given a backstage tour of the venue and auditorium, as well as chance to meet a senior member of the wigs team to find out how they prepare for performances and what their role involves.

Ron Dearing UTC student Beth Mason with her wig on display at the Royal Opera House in London.


The Design Challenge celebrates young talent in costume, set, marketing, wig and makeup design. The competition recognises, celebrates and showcases the next generation of design talent while improving access to design jobs in theatre and beyond, enhancing students’ hands-on skills to help them achieve their qualifications.

Beth, who is studying English Literature and Language, 3D Design and Fine Art at Ron Dearing UTC,  travelled to London with her mum Helen Mason and Ron Dearing UTC Principal Sarah Pashley for the ceremony.

Beth said: “It was such an inspiring and fun project and I feel honoured my work has been chosen from so many other entries. It’s a brilliant opportunity to work to a live brief and the experience has given me valuable skills.

“One of the requirements was for the wig to be bold, imaginative and original, forcing me to think outside the box. I looked into different hair styles and wigs from the 18th century, which were voluminous and extravagant.

“This amazing experience has helped me to realise that creativity is so valuable and I’ve had great support from everyone at school throughout the project.”

It’s the first year Ron Dearing UTC students have entered the Design Challenge, which is now in its 13th year.

The school’s Year 12 3D Design and Graphics A-level students initially entered the competition in school to design set, costumes, graphics and wigs for the production. Their work was judged by Ron Dearing staff and those winners had to submit a video of their work to the Royal Opera House Design Challenge judges.

Alongside Beth, Hayden Taylor was selected for best set design, Jessie Duncan was chosen for best costume design, and Henry Garland-Collins and Matthew Bestley were chosen as marketing campaign winners.

Ron Dearing UTC caters for students aged between 14 and 19, offering a unique model of employer-led education with a specialist focus on creative arts, digital technology, computing and engineering.

Principal Sarah Pashley said: “We’re incredibly proud of Beth for having her talent, flair and creativity recognised on a national stage.

“She did a wonderful job of bringing her research and ideas to life. It was a joy to see her work on display in Covent Garden and an experience she will always remember.

“All of our students who entered the Design Challenge came up with excellent ideas and created some outstanding work. It was a great opportunity for them to understand more about the Royal Opera House and what is required to work in the theatre industry. Well done to everyone involved.”