The pensioners who are still hard at work

Hairdresser Ian Henry, 66, from Cosham
Hairdresser Ian Henry, 66, from Cosham
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He’s cut the hair of great-grandfathers, grandfathers, their sons and grandsons.

Ian Henry has been a familiar sight to people passing a barber’s shop in Cosham for 49 years.

‘People are used to seeing me, cutting hair or watching the world go by.

‘They say when I die, they’ll have me stuffed so I’m still standing in the window waving at people,’ he laughs.

The 66-year-old has been working at the barber’s in Spur Road since 1962.

He has been the owner since he took it over in 1980.

And although he has just passed the age at which people traditionally retire, he has no intention of putting down the comb and scissors.

He laughs: ‘I’ll be working as long as I can, as long as the shop doesn’t fall down or I don’t fall down.

‘I love doing this, you look at this time of year, the wind and rain and the days are dark and short.

‘What do you do at home apart from watching Jeremy Kyle?

‘That would drive me crackers and my wife wouldn’t put up with it. She’d kick me out every day anyway.’

Ian has a nice line in banter and thinks some of the customers visit the shop as much for the chat as the haircut.

He is one of a growing number of people who want to work past retirement age, either through choice or because they need the money to supplement their pension.

One of the most prominent is Meridian TV presenter Fred Dinenage, still anchoring the nightly news at the age of 68.

Fred, who lives in Hambledon, began as a teaboy on a newspaper and still loves life in the media after a career that has spanned more than 45 years.

The government’s decision to remove the Default Retirement Age is set to make longer working easier. Rules that enable employers to force staff to retire at 65 will be phased out this year.

Ian knew he wanted to cut hair from the age of 11 when he saw a report on television about a new salon opening.

‘I went to tell my mum straight away and she was a bit shocked because there weren’t many male hairdressers in those days,’ he says.

He started off in a women’s salon but decided to cut men’s hair and has been working at the Cosham shop ever since.

The benefits of working in the same place for almost 50 years are clear.

‘People know me, I went to school with them. And I’ve cut the hair of four generations of families.

‘It’s brilliant that the customers have stayed loyal for all these years.

‘It’s a case of ‘I’ve brought my son to have his first haircut here because I had my first haircut here and so did my dad.’

Ian and his team have one or two customers who have been visiting since the 1930s.

Most of his clients love to talk about local history and discuss the old pictures on the shop walls.

And he hears about all aspects of life.

‘We get to know people and we hear all sorts. Whose wife is pregnant, who’s gone to prison, all kinds of things.’

There’s no doubt that Ian’s way with people is invaluable to his business and he says you can’t beat experience in the workplace.

But he worries about the prospects for young people.

‘There are a lot of people looking for jobs and it isn’t easy for the youngsters.

‘If you have people working somewhere for a long time, they get to know customers who tend to have better service and a more personal experience.

Ian adds: ‘And as you get older you learn how to handle people.

‘If you get someone who’s a bit awkward, you find out what’s wrong and then do your best to try to put it right.’