A chance meeting led to a career spanning 42 years for a Colne hairdresser who is as well known for her warm and lively personality as her styling skills.
Sue Gibbons styled her last client last weekend, four decades after she inquired about a job working for the well known salon owner Tony Ingram.
“I was blow drying clients’ hair by the second day in his salon and Tony told me I was a natural and that he could train me up,” said Sue who spent eight years working in the salon.
In 1974 Sue set up in business with Tony’s wife, Jean, a partnership that was to last seven years in a salon in Primet Hill. With eight staff, the salon thrived and was ground breaking as it was one of the first unisex salons in the area. When Jean left the business, Sue continued on her own.
Popular and well known for her modern approach to hairdressing, many believed that Sue would quit when her salon was targeted twice by burglars in three months who cleared out the premises on both occasions.
Sue said: “Something like this breaks you. It was devastating but I vowed they would not get the better of me and I was determined to carry on with my business.”
When Sue was offered a room above a wool shop in Church Street she took the opportunity and that is where Sue’s Sissors has been based for the past 16 years. Perhaps one of the best known personalities in Colne, Sue (66) is filled with emotion when she talks about the many good friends she has made through her work.
“I love the fact that my clients say coming to me is like a tonic that makes them feel better,” she said.
“As a hairdresser you are a marriage guidance counsellor, psychologist and listening ear. People come in and tell you things they could never tell their family as they are too close.”
Sue believes the key to her success has been to keep updated with all the latest styles and techniques.
She said: “We have never been the ‘wash and set’ type of salon. The aim has always been for clients to leave feeling great and happy with their look.”
Many of the staff Sue has trained over the years keep in touch and are like part of her family. She said: “Two now live in Australia but we are in regular contact. I have worked with some great girls over the years.”
Originally from Leeds, Sue could have been destined for a career on the stage as she worked as an “extra” on a variety of television programmes, including Coronation Street. Sue regularly appeared as one of the girls working in the clothing factory owned by one of the show’s most popular characters, Mike Baldwin, played by Johnny Briggs.
Sue regularly mixed with the cast including Doris Speed who played Rovers’ Return landlady Annie Walker and the much loved late Betty Driver who played barmaid Betty Williams into her 90s.
Sue said: “They were different times then and you could almost make a living out of it.
“I also worked on a lot of period dramas. It was good fun and there was always something different to do.”
Sue has also been lucky enough to travel the world with her husband, Stephen, thanks to his musical career as a singer on cruise ships. He now works as a driver for Althams Travel but still gigs with his bands The Good Times and Jim Day and the Knights.
Sue said: “Stephen has been my rock through everything and I want to thank him and all my clients and staff over the years for their help and support. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Sue plans to keep her hand in occasionally as a hair stylist during her retirement but her main aim is to keep fit and healthy and spend time with Steve and their beloved pet Collie dog, Charlie.
She said: “I am looking forward to not having a routine and just enjoying some free time.”