Volunteer John is a cut above

John Langley.  pic Richard Ponter 151412e
John Langley. pic Richard Ponter 151412e

He might be the ripe old age of 80, but John Langley is still aiming to stay a cut above the rest for while yet.

The Bridlington hairdresser is celebrating his 60th year in the business and still shows no sign of hanging up his scissors.

Mr Langley’s hairdressing career began back in 1955, following a three-year stint as a soldier in the Royal Engineers.

It was while on a course at London’s Bush House that he developed a love of grooming which would last a lifetime.

He started out at Auty’s salon in Leeds, later going on to set up his own salon in Bridlington’s South Marine Drive before moving to Flamborough Road.

Since his official retirement almost 10 years ago, he has volunteered at Scarborough’s St Catherine’s Hospice, offering cuts, shampoo and sets and blow-drys to patients at the centre which is itself celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Mr Langley said: “I wanted to keep going, and St Catherine’s is a marvellous place.

“For patients they can come and feel relaxed with many say they feel better afterwards.

“I always say you look twice as good after a hair cut.”

Mr Langley’s career also saw him hold the post of provincial master of the Guild of Hairdressers Wigmakers and Perfumers and use his snipping skills on a star or two.

When comedian Les Dawson came to Bridlington for a summer season in the 1980s, he called in on Langley Hair Fashions for a cut.

Yet his time in the chair was not a laugh-a-minute affair. “Amazingly, he was very quiet,” said the father-of-three, who is set to become a grandfather in July.

“He brought his daughter with him and he spoke very little, not what you’d expect at all.”

Despite the celebrity encounter it is his loyal, local clients who hold a special place in the octogenarian’s heart.

“I had one woman who followed me when I moved, so I cut her hair for 44 years,” he added.

For Mr Langley, the secret to his success is straightforward.

After six decades, he might be forgiven for tiring of asking clients their holiday plans, but he still takes delight in the time-old hairdressing clichés.

Mr Langley said: “I love holidays myself, so I love to ask people where they’re going, or where they’ve been. I don’t get tired of it at all.”

When it comes to the so-called hipster beards and bequiffed barnets which are en-vogue in the world of male grooming, he’s seen it all before. Mr Langley said: “I’ve been asked to do all sorts over the years. The trends seem to come back round.”

There is a change in the price, however. In his wide-eyed salad days, the cost of a gent’s cut was just 12p.

One of the pinnacles of Mr Langley’s time in hairdressing came eight years ago, when his volunteer work at St Catherine’s received the royal seal of approval during a visit from the Prince of Wales.

Despite approaching his 81st year, he continues to get a kick from making others feel good, and remains as committed as ever to the cause.

“I’ll carry on as long as I can – it keeps me young,” he said.

A number of events are planned to mark St Catherine’s Hospice’s 30th anniversary. A 1980s Rewind Party is planned on Saturday, April 18, at the Scarborough Fair Collection, Flower of May Holiday Park, Lebberston, and a Celebration Ball in June. Meanwhile, members of Bridlington Metal Detecting Club have raised £1,500 in donations in return for being able to enjoy practising their hobby on land at Hunmanby.