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Lasting memorial to popular hairdresser

PUBLISHED: 22:12 13 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:21 03 March 2010

FRIENDS and family of popular hairdresser Roberto Labella will be able to sit in quiet reflection on a bench dedicated to his memory.

Roberto, who ran Artizone hairdressers on St Peter's Street, was just 39 when he died of a heart attack two years ago this month.

FRIENDS and family of popular hairdresser Roberto Labella will be able to sit in quiet reflection on a bench dedicated to his memory.

Roberto, who ran Artizone hairdressers on St Peter's Street, was just 39 when he died of a heart attack two years ago this month.

The bench is in the Lower Arboretum, opposite the tennis courts in Christchurch Park, as a lasting tribute to the much-loved hairdresser described as "thoughtful, loving and kind who would always add a smile to everyone's faces."

Ciro Dellabella, one of Roberto's many close friends, organised the collection for the £500 bench which carries the plaque with the words: "In loving memory of Enzo Roberto Labella 15/01/61 – 6/2/2000."

The bench has the blessing of Roberto's family and a further £355 was donated to the Ipswich Rhythm of Life Appeal in his name to correspond with the second anniversary of his death.

Ciro, 33, said: "Roberto was so well known around Ipswich. Whoever he spoke to was taken aback by him: his appearance, his generosity and his love of people.

"Everybody liked him. His death was a big loss to the community.

"In time we want to raise money for a second bench. I know there are lots of people out there who want to donate."

On the day of Roberto's memorial service two years ago traffic came to a standstill in the town centre as family and friends walked in silent procession from Artizone salon in St Peter's Street to St Pancras Church.

Father Francis Leeder told the packed church at the service: "It is a credit to his warm and outstanding personality that so many people are shocked by his sudden death, that the memories they have of Roberto are warm and pleasant.

"Roberto died so young but lived long enough to make so many friends and make a success of his life.

"He died in the prime of his life, but has been spared, perhaps, the suffering and incapacity of growing old."

Roberto, a hairdresser to whole generations of families, was the second oldest of four children and spent much of his life in Ipswich. He worked with some of the top hairdressers.

He died after returning to his flat above the Artizone salon on Sunday February 6, 2000. He had just come back from a visit to the gym.

After the memorial service his body was flown back to the family's home town of Sicily for a funeral. He was interred at Ribera Cemetery.

If you would like to donate for a second bench please send cheques - marking the envelope 'Roberto Labella memorial' to: Geraldine Thompson, editor's secretary, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

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