Jackie - still hairdressing at 80
PUBLISHED: 11:34 23 April 2019 | UPDATED: 12:53 23 April 2019
Jackie Gooch has been a hairdresser since she was 15. As she celebrates her 80th birthday, in Ipswich, she says isn't quite ready to retire yet.
In 1954, 15-year-old Jackie Cuthbert began working as an apprentice hair stylist. Sixty-five years on, Jackie is still working as a hairdresser.
Jackie, now Gooch, celebrated her 80th birthday (she doesn't look it) on April 16 and she had thought she might retire from working Wednesdays at her daughter's salon, Shadows, in Brunswick Road, Ipswich but she has been persuaded to carry on, for now.
Norfolk-born Jackie was apprenticed as a hair stylist, wig maker and in giving “fibro-ray massage” at Madame Broshé's upmarket salon in Norwich where they were “very particular”.
“We had cubicles for each client and we heated the hair irons on gas jets. We made all the shampoos and conditioners ourselves.
Reflecting on a life time in the hair styling industry, Jackie says: “I think I always had a fetish for cutting. As a young girl I trimmed the fringe off a bedspread and got into serious trouble.”
Daughter, Penny, followed her mum into hairdressing and she was also a bit too keen with the scissors, recalls, Jackie: “Penny trimmed Tressy's hair.” Tressy was a doll whose hair “grew” − unfortunately it did so from a hole in the doll's head rather than organically.
Jackie left Norwich when she was 19 and went to work in Romford with excellent references (“I still have them”).
“I went to John Taylor's Gidea Park salon and spent two years there.”
By now Jackie was married and had a son, Steven. The family moved to Southend, where Penny was born. “When she was four-years-old, we got our own salon in Southend, Penny Ann's (her daughter's names). Then, just over a year later we moved to Ipswich.”
Jackie's late husband, Brian Trett, had been in insurance with Norwich Union but a change of direction brought him to Ipswich, where he worked as a broker.
“I hated Ipswich when I first came here,” admits Jackie. “For four years I wanted to go back to Southend - the people didn't seem very friendly. When they answered their doors they would only open them a little way.
“But once they accept you and they know you're all right, you're well in!” laughs Jackie, who is grandmother to five and step-grandmother to two.
While her children were young, Jackie went mobile, hairdressing at home and travelling out to client's homes.
Before it became Shadows, the salon that stands on the end of a parade of shops on Brunswick Road, had been a greengrocer's. Given a thoroughly modern makeover, Shadows opened on November 23, 1987, just four weeks after the Great Storm that hit in October of that year.
“Everyone said mother and daughter working together would never work,” says Jackie, whose daughter has decked the salon with balloons for her mum's birthday. In fact, the partnership has clearly worked. The two women have worked happily together not only as stylists but also on the salon decor.
Does Jackie still get involved with the decor. “Yes.” says Penny immediately, before her mum can reply.
If Jackie was starting out now, would she choose the same career? “I would do it all over again, I have had a lot of fun.”
“Hairdressing is a vocation, you have got to love it to do it.”
She reveals one of her trade secrets: “I couldn't come here and do hair without my shoes on,” says Jackie. “It's all about how you stand,” she adds.
She has her own loyal clients and these include Peggy. “I have been doing her hair since Penny was six − that's 50 years,” says Jackie.
“The profession is still as exciting as it was, I love it, although hairdressing can be misunderstood. You have to know what you're doing. You cannot afford to take risks with products that use chemicals.”
Her personal life has brought great happiness but also great sadness. After her husband Brian died, Jackie was a widow for nine years until she married widower Ivan Gooch - who was her first husband's golf partner. Ivan died last year and Jackie is once more a widow.
“There are two benches at Ipswich Golf Club on Purdis Heath, now. One for Brian and one for Ivan.”
“I have been lucky that I've been married twice and unlucky that I have lost them both,” she says, momentarily sad.
“I had planned to retired today but my daughter says it would be good to keep going.”
So Jackie has had a week off work for her birthday but she'll be back in the salon next Wednesday, scissors and comb at the ready, to do Peggy's hair.
• Video shot and edited by Sam Finbow