AFTER 27 years trimming locks Gareth Clarke’s cutting-edge talents have won national recognition.
The Wallingford barber is the first person in the county to receive the Master Craftsman in Barbering award by the Hairdressing Council.
The accolade recognises dedicated professionals in the industry who meet eligibility criteria including working in a management position.
Mr Clarke said: “I love my job and I love what I do – it means so much to me.”
The 43-year-old has run Didcot-based family business Gareth Clarke Hair for Men, in Broadway, for the last 11 years with his wife Tracey.
He followed in the footsteps of his father George Clarke, 73, and joined the industry after leaving school at the age of 16.
The father-of-three has since dedicated his entire career to cutting hair.
Before launching his own business, he worked in just three barber’s shops – Wallingford’s Thames Salon, Oxford’s Campus Barbers and Abingdon’s Charter Barber.
Mr Clarke said when he first entered the industry it was unfashionable for boys to join the female-dominated hairdressing industry.
When training, he was one of just two male students in a 20-strong female class.
He added: “I have seen it go full circle.
“Now the barber shop environment is big again. It’s a place to go and hang out.”
While long hair was popular in the 1980s and 1990s, Mr Clarke said short haircuts with partings and quiffs now make regular appearances.
Shop walls filled with posters of celebrities are becoming a thing of the past as customers arrive for their haircut armed with smartphones showing their ideal image.
With customers of all ages arriving in his shop, conversational topics such as sports appear on the daily agenda.
Mr Clarke said: “Back when I started there were lot of older gentlemen and we would struggle to get a conversation out of them.”
He added: “The customers almost feels like family and friends to us.
“I love the feeling of sending someone out after making them feel good.”
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