HUDDERSFIELD millinery student Sharon Bainbridge is heading for success in an international hat designing contest.

Sharon, 38, has reached the semi-finals of the 2004 International Hat Designer of the Year competition.

She came third in the competition last year and also entered in 2002.

This year's competition will be judged at Olympia in London in August.

Sharon, who studies millinery at Huddersfield Technical College, has based her six entries this year on the works of Yorkshire sculptor Barbara Hepworth.

The Halifax mum-of-two said: "Her work is quite rounded and smooth. It is quite 1960s and that is very fashionable at the moment.

"All my hats are in black and white, but I am having to incorporate Swiss straw made by the competition sponsors Tressa.

"It is new to me and is quite scary to deal with!"

But Sharon should have no need to worry.

Her hat designs have won a series of accolades.

Last year she had two hats displayed at Paris Fashion Week.

She also designed a hat to be worn at the famous Prix de l'Arc du Triomphe race meeting in Paris.

Last year she was the winner of a design competition to create hats for fashion house Aquascutum and in 2002 she won a competition run by fish firm Young's to design a hat for Ascot races.

Sharon has also sold some of her designs and is hoping to turn her passion into a thriving business.

She said: "It is my objective but I haven't done much towards it so far as I have been mainly studying."

But becoming a full-time entrepreneur will have to wait another year.

Sharon has almost finished her three-year City and Guilds millinery course but plans to continue studying at the Tech in September.

She will spend a year learning about historical millinery and millinery in the theatre.

Sharon's designs are on the internet at www.millineryby