Famous faces from the worlds of showbiz and fashion have shown their support for hairdresser Paul Stafford after he revealed in the Belfast Telegraph that his business has gone bust.
Tributes have poured in for Mr Stafford, who is filing for bankruptcy.
The multi-award winning stylist — a member of the Hairdressing Hall of Fame — became the latest victim of the recession after the property market crashed.
It left him with £2m of debt on property investments he had made as part of a retirement plan.
Paul, who has an impressive celebrity client list including Patrick Kielty, Sharon Corr and Darren Clarke, is to continue to work with his wife Leisa in the Lisburn Road salon, which has been bought over. Friends last night contacted the Belfast Telegraph to share their favourite stories and voice their support for the Staffords.
Broadcaster Pamela Ballantine said: “Paul was the first person to cut my hair short. Before that I had Linda Evans-style big hair. He was a young stylist working for Alan Boyce in Company Hair Cutters at the time and they were raising money for Telethon.
“Alan said he would donate a couple of hundred more if I got my hair cut off. I remember I arrived in the salon and a young Paul Stafford was standing by with the scissors and his hands were shaking. He has been cutting my hair ever since.
“I am so sorry that he and Leisa have been hit by the recession.”
Former UTV journalist Jeanie Johnston, now head of communications for the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, said: “Paul Stafford first did my hair when I was bridesmaid and he was best man at the wedding of our friends Kate Smith and Michael Deane.
“The wedding took place in Scotland with just Paul, Leisa, myself and Michael’s dad present. We had a lovely lunch beforehand and left it late to get ready.
“Paul spent three minutes on my hair with a brush and hairspray and it looked better than it ever had in my life.
“As soon as I got home I made an appointment and I have been a client and, more importantly, a friend, ever since.
“A hairdresser is much more than someone who does your hair.’’
Another former UTV journalist, Kate Smith, met Paul about 20 years ago when he first won the Hairdresser of the Year Award and she interviewed him.
“He offered to cut my hair and I have been one of his clients ever since,” she said. “He is a great guy and a brilliant hairdresser who has an indomitable spirit.’’
Suzan Manning, owner of current Salon of the Year Zuni, in Belfast, worked with Paul in his salon for 10 years.
“We have just won Salon of the Year and I attribute part of that success to Paul and his influence on my career,” she said.