Ipswich: Hair today, gone tomorrow - Valerie retires after 60 years

IPSWICH: Sixty years after she started out as an apprentice, Valerie Hutchison is today hanging up her scissors.

Ignoring the advice of her headmistress, 15-year-old Valerie, a former Westbourne pupil, followed her dream of becoming a hairdresser.

As a trainee in 1951, she learnt her trade, getting to grips with the eight-and-a-half inch scissors used at the time, at her first job at a salon in Foxhall Road.

Her career has taken her across the town, working in various salons as well as in countries across the world – Papua New Guinea being the most exotic.

Known fondly as ‘Mrs H’ to hundreds of students, Mrs Hutchison spent 32 years teaching at Suffolk College, where she passed on her experience and knowledge.

But today the grandmother-of-four has retired and now reserves the odd trim for family and friends.

“With my family and close friends, it is business as normal,” said the 75-year-old. “I am still doing the odd haircut, I bought new scissors only the other day. I have loved my job, working with the youngsters especially.

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“I remember my headmistress taking me aside and telling me I should consider becoming a typist or secretary. But I always knew I wanted to be a hairdresser.

“I remember the days of single-sex salons, using eight-and-a-half inch scissors and perms.

“Today it is all different, we have open unisex salons, stylists wear trendy clothes, perms are not so popular but colour is amazing.”

Ending her long and rewarding career, after leaving Suffolk New College, Mrs Hutchinson started working for John Michael hairdressing group.

She added: “The years I have worked there have been very special to me, everyone from juniors to senior management always make me feel very special.

“I have been very lucky to be continually up to date and involved with the hairdressing industry and I love it as much today as I did 60 years ago when I started my training.”

n What are your memories of your trade in the town? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstar letters@eveningstar.co.uk