It was a close shave for South Tyneside barber Allan Stone after he narrowly missed out on being crowned the nation’s best shaver.
The 42-year-old pit his skills against some of the best in the country – weeks after undergoing a hip replacement operation – after winning a place in the finals of a prestigious industry competition.
I never expected to get past the quarter-finals to be honest.Allan Stone
The two-day contest was held at Birmingham NEC and was the first time he had made it the arena after missing out on a place last year.
And despite being out of hospital a matter of weeks, he was determined to take his place and see how far he could go.
Only eight highest-scoring barbers from regional contests from around the UK make it to the finals.
Allan, who owns Stoney’s Barbershop, in Laygate, South Shields, said: “I nearly didn’t go as I had only been out of hospital a few weeks after having a hip replacement.
“But I knew if I didn’t, I would regret it. I missed out on the finals last year after coming ninth so I couldn’t miss this opportunity.
“I was just really happy to get to the last eight, but when I made it through the quarter-finals and then the semi-finals to the final – it was amazing.
“I never expected to get past the quarter-finals to be honest.”
Throughout the contest Allan, who started his career as an apprentice hairdresser at Saks, was judged on a number of criteria including health and safety, application, procedure, razor technique and post-shave routine.
Allan added: “Once I hit the semi-finals, I really wanted to win it. For it all to come down to a split decision, it was upsetting.
“But when I look back at it, it was such an experience and I got some amazing feedback from the judges. I’ll definitely be entering it next year.”
Now in its fifth year, the annual competition, run by industry watchdogs the British Barbers’ Association and male grooming brand The Bluebeards Revenge, is fast becoming the most coveted competition of the barbering industry.
Nick Gibbens, spokesman for The Bluebeards Revenge, said: “Each year we’re blown away by the level of talent out there, and this year we’ve had a record number of entries.
“What this shows is that competitions like this, along with the good work of the British Barbers’ Association, help to drive up standards in the barbering industry – that’s the overall objective.”