Making sure the salon’s in safe hands

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AFTER more than 40 years in the business, Brighouse hairdresser Renny Taylor is hanging up his scissors and stepping away from the stylist’s chair.

Renny, who suffered a stroke in spring 2010, is retiring on medical advice - but he is leaving the business in safe hands. His children, Daniel and Leanne, who practically grew up helping out in the salon, are the fourth generation to work in the business in Park Street, Brighouse. They are taking over as the family firm celebrates 100 years in business.

“In some ways it’s been a hard decision because I’ve loved every day I’ve been in hairdressing. But it’s been made a lot easier knowing I am handing over to Daniel and Leanne,” said 56-year-old Renny.

The former championship hairdresser has struggled to cope with the job after suffering a stroke which affected the left hand side of his body. It also meant he was unable to pursue his passion for clay pigeon shooting, a sport which won him honours at county and national level.

But, though he is retiring from the world of hairdressing, Renny is determined to keep busy and active. He has been working on a voluntary basis for the Stroke Assocation, he hopes to be able to return to clay pigeon shooting using a specially-adapted gun and he has regained his driving licence for automatic cars.

“After my stroke I tried to keep working but it has been difficult. Physically you can’t tell that I’ve had a stroke but I know I’m a different person. There’s a saying that, once you’ve had a stroke, you’re always a recovering stroke victim.

“I can honestly say there was never a morning when I didn’t want to come into work - it’s been a fantastic job for me - but, at the same time, you have to listen to the doctors.”

Renny started hairdressing when he was 16, working in the family business, Ed Taylor’s. After Vidal Sassoon had blazed a trail in the hairdressing world with the sharp Sixties bob, trendy young women in the 1970s started coming into Renny’s salon asking for ‘the wedge’ haircut as worn by Rita Tushingham or ‘the Purdey’, as modelled by Joanna Lumley in ‘The Avengers’. In the 1980s, it was the Princess Di look that was the most requested.

Times were changing and women no longer wanted to visit the hairdressers once a week for a regulation shampoo and set. The emphasis was on cutting and blow drying and a free and easy style. Renny, who had trained as a barber, was ideally suited to adapt to the changing fashions.

“These days women are much better educated on how to look after their own hair. They come once a month for a good cut and are happy to handle it themselves in between,” said Renny.

The days when Renny would open to suit the working hours of the thousands of female employees at Kossett Carpets, Firths and Blakeboroughs are also gone.

Now Daniel, a former professional goalkeeper, and Leanne are relishing the opportunity to work together.

“We’ve been coming into the shop since we were small children,” said Leanne. “We know the customers and they know us.”

Daniel said: “The lease on my shop in Birstall was coming up for renewal and it just seemed a great opportunity to join up with Leanne and take over from dad.We have very loyal customers and the challenge is to attract new ones. But we find that once someone’s been here for the first time, they keep coming back.”