A HAIRDRESSER and barber who has worked for 66 years in her village has been called a "local institution".

Shirley Walker, who lives in Cefn Fforest, has run her business Shirley's for many years – following in the footsteps of her father who was known as Scottie Jones, who first opened and ran the business Scottie's the Barbers – before it became Shirley's – in the 1930s.

The 82-year-old, who has lived in the village for all her life, started working at her father's business at the age of 15/16 and said she sort of fell into the job without really thinking about it.

She said: "My father didn't have any boys, so it sort of fell upon me to take over really as I was the next best thing.

"I actually wanted to be a nurse and never wanted to become a barber. My father said to me 'come in for a fortnight' and afterwards he told me I had the makings of a real barber."

Mrs Walker said she can't remember when she took over the business as it feels like an "age" but said she does love her job and enjoys chatting to her customers.

And Shirley's is very popular in the local area, with many customers visiting Mrs Walker for their haircuts for more than 30 years.

One resident, Lyn Park, says he has been going to see Mrs Walker for 35 years and that she is very popular.

"I only started going there when I moved into Grove Park, in 1982," he said. "Previously, I had lived at the lower end of Blackwood, since I was born in 1950, so used other barbers.

"I have continued to go there for 35 years because you get your hair cut at a very reasonable charge, it is done as I like it (not as fashion dictates), the atmosphere is warm and friendly and I can catch up with all the local news.

"People travel from places such as Bargoed to get their hair cut, and even customers now living in Cardiff have been known to continue their patronage, as it is cheaper to drive up here than pay Cardiff prices.

"One customer, an elderly lady who moved to Brecon from Grove Park, drives herself down each time she needs her hair done."

Mrs Walker said she also recently had a man come down from Torquay – who is originally from Cefn Fforest – to visit family and dropped by to get his hair cut.

She said: "He told me he had his first hair cut here and had brought his little boy to have his first hair cut. I thought that was just lovely."

The 82-year-old Mrs Walker also said she won't be stopping cutting hair any time soon as she finds retirement "boring and dull".