Liverpool

Herbert Howe: Liverpool's 'King of Bling' hairdresser

Order of service and crowds as hearse passes outside Herbert hairdresser's shop in Liverpool
Image caption More than 1,000 people attended Herbert "The King of Bling" Howe's funeral

Mayoral candidate, friend to the stars, charity fundraiser, lover of pink and hairdresser extraordinaire - Liverpool has been saying goodbye to the much loved Herbert Howe.

More than 1,000 people packed into the city's Anglican Cathedral for his funeral on Friday, with a bevy of famous Merseysiders in attendance, including comedian Ken Dodd, model Danielle Lloyd and actress Jennifer Ellison.

Howe's flamboyance, lust for life and penchant for self-promotion earned him near celebrity status in the city - becoming what you might call a "Scousehold name".

But who was Howe and what was his story?

Born in 1944 in the Old Swan area of the city, he became a hairdressing apprentice in Bold Street before using the princely sum of £100 to open his first salon on West Derby Road.

The skilful snipper had a vision: to create "the Harrods of hairdressing".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The flamboyant hairdresser and charity fundraiser died aged 72, on 20 October, after battling cancer

Howe demonstrated a prodigious talent from the outset, becoming the youngest-ever Guild master hairdresser at the age of 28.

His business grew gradually, and before long he was running Merseyside's largest hairdressing training school.

He would later be presented with a "Scouseology" special award for services to Liverpool.

Previous winners of the award include Paul McCartney, Cilla Black and Kenny Dalglish.

At home rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, Howe loved showbusiness and featured on ITV docu-soap Shampoo and Channel 5's Celebrity Super Spa.

Image caption Howe's famous Rolls Royce sported the registration plate Bling 1

Later in life he took to the stage as a pantomime dame, a role in which theatre producer Jane Joseph said he was "an absolute natural".

"He was as much an entertainer as a hairdresser, so it was only natural that he could entertain on stage as well," she said.

He also chose to regularly spend his Friday night contributing to BBC Radio Merseyside's late show - an association that lasted nearly 10 years.

At Howe's funeral, presenter Linda McDermott described him as "irreplaceable", saying he "radiated love of people and of life, and of great kindness".

The Scouse snipper certainly loved the bright and colourful - particularly pink, the colour he painted his house.

Image caption Radio presenter Pete Price wore the last present given to him by his lifelong pal - a bright pink and black jacket - to Howe's funeral on Friday

So it was no surprise that in 2006 Howe named his landmark £3m salon the Bling Bling building.

The Hanover Street salon was designed by architect Piers Gough as a place to match Howe's vibrant and theatrical personality - and was soon frequented by the great and good of the city.

Howe even tried his hand at politics - if only briefly.

He stood for mayor of Liverpool in 2012, launching his campaign with a champagne reception and promising to give his mayor's salary to youth groups, but quickly withdrew because of what he described as the "viperous" atmosphere of local politics.

But friends say Howe's greatest legacy will be his charity work.

Ms McDermott remembered how he took hundreds of young carers to Blackpool and Gulliver's World theme park and was moved to tears by a letter from a young boy thanking him.

She said Howe once brought 40 children from Chernobyl into his salon to treat them to cakes and haircuts.

He set up Queenie's Christmas Charity in 2007 in memory of his mother, who died of Parkinson's disease.

Image caption More than 1,000 people attended the service at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral

It provides Christmas dinner at the city's famous Adelphi Hotel, for people who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day, as well as supporting Barnardo's young carers by providing food and gifts.

Howe had said he wanted to be remembered as "Liverpool's Father Christmas".

Fellow hairdresser Andrew Collinge said he was "a great man - as we know, a much loved part of Liverpool - and a great hairdresser" whose "work for good causes was unparalleled".

Actor Ricky Tomlinson called Howe "a champion of the underdog", who "cared about people who weren't as lucky or fortunate as himself".

Describing the flamboyant hairdresser as an ambassador for the city, mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson spoke for many Scousers when he said there was "less glitter" now Howe had gone.

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