'Leys community saved my tattoo parlour'

Oxford Mail: Ian Austin, right, with tattoo artist Jamie Gardiner and trainee tattoo artist Lorraine Phillips Buy this photo » Ian Austin, right, with tattoo artist Jamie Gardiner and trainee tattoo artist Lorraine Phillips

THE Blackbird Leys community has saved a tattoo parlour from being permanently rubbed out.

Knights Road tattoo studio in Blackbird Leys plunged into difficulties when owner Ian Austin suffered personal tragedy.

His partner Susan Kellaway, 63, died after a short illness just before Christmas and he also fell ill.

The studio was about £3,000 in arrears to Oxford City Council as the building owner.

Staff at the tattoo parlour reached out through the pages of the Oxford Mail and donations began to pour in.

Among the many fundraising efforts tattooist Jamie Gardiner, 30, held a raffle where a free day of inking was the top prize. It raised more than £700.

Another friend put on a pony ride event, and an online campaign resulted in more generous gifts and offers of help.

The studio has taken steps to start paying off the debt now it has the money in place.

Mr Austin said he was overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of his colleagues and the people of Blackbird Leys.

The 53-year-old said: “The staff here have been terrific and I can’t thank them enough. People have been coming into the shop and handing money over. My health is still bad, and the doctor has told me I’ve taken too much on but I don’t want to leave the place alone.

“Jamie has been great but there are so many others who have helped, I can’t name them all but they know who they are. I feel very lucky to have their support.

“We’re hoping to secure a bit more funding soon and that should pay off enough for us to keep going.

He added; “I was taken aback by the community response.

“Losing Susan was such a big loss to all of us, she was like the mother of the parlour and was a friend to everyone who came through the door.

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“I had a letter from the hospital to state that she had donated her organs and that even after death she had helped two people already.

“I didn’t know anything about that before but that is the kind of person she was.

“I’m still in and out of the doctors but determined to keep going.”

The tattoo parlour was described as more of a local hub for people to go in and hang out.

Mr Austin is well known for his tattoo art, having had images of his work exhibited at the Oxford Union.

He has also fundraised for charities including CLIC Sargent.

Oxford City Council said it was in constant discussion with Mr Austin and urged him to keep it informed as it attempted to resolve the situation.

For more details, contact studio@knightsroadtattoostudio.co.uk

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