One of the borough's oldest working barbers has been given a surprise honour by a favourite regular, the Mayor of Solihull.
Dave Phipps has been cutting hair at Kents Hairdressers, in Poplar Road, for more than fifty years.
To celebrate his incredible loyalty, Kents invited Mayor Joe Tildesley, who has had his hair cut by Dave for the past 20 years, to present him with a cheque and the barber’s original apprentice’s indentures.
“This surprise has been the biggest shock of my life,” said the stunned 64-year-old. “I thought it was a bit odd when Joe appeared because he doesn’t usually wear his chain of office to have his hair cut,” said Dave.
“It has been an absolute pleasure working here and long may it continue. I shall keep going as long as I still enjoy it and feel that I can contribute to the business.”
Dave joined Kents Hairdressers on July 14, 1963, when he was just 14 years old, and rose to the post of general manager.
The brand was founded in 1934 with just one shop by Vic Kent, grandfather of current proprietor Antony, and now has 15 branches across the country.
When he first started work, the company still owned a fishing tackle shop next door and Dave was even called upon to serve the occasional pint of maggots for fishing bait between hair cuts.
“Apparently, he dressed a bit like a mod back then and later on he became even more dapper with a rolled up umbrella and a bowler hat,” said Antony Kent.
“My grandfather had died two years before he started with us and my father, David, and my late uncle, Eric, were just beginning to build up a chain of shops. Dave has stayed with us throughout virtually the whole of that process and has played a vital part in our success.
“During the three-day week back in the 1970s when there were power cuts, he even carried on working with the help of an ice cream van supplying an emergency electricity supply.
“Staff like Dave are really important and he has worked with so many people that if we had invited everyone to this celebration, we would have needed to hire the O2 arena. I would like to thank him for helping to make Kents what it was, what it is and what it will be in the future.”