A Carrickfergus resident is celebrating after landing a top title at the Northern Ireland Hair and Beauty Awards.
Sam Arthur, of Sam’s Barber Shop, North Queen Street, Belfast, was presented with the Best Barber 2015 award at the gala ceremony in Europa Hotel.
Sam, who has been in the profession for almost three decades, said he had not anticipating his name being called out at the famous Belfast venue.
He told the Times: “I was very happy, it was unexpected. You never think you are going to be best in the country.” Sam, who runs the business along with his wife Hazel, specialises in mod hairstyles - perhaps not that surprising given that he has been a mod since his early teens. “I have over 500 mods on my books,” he revealed.
His mod credentials are further underlined as a collector of vintage scooters. And fellow enthusiasts of the subculture associated with Vespa scooters, tailored fashion and the music of bands such as the Who and later the Jam, follow his shop on social network.
They seek him out from much further afield than Ireland. Recalling one person dropping in from Portugal to have his hair cut, he added: “I was in Brighton at a mods convention, I was walking in when a couple of people from Vienna said they were following us on facebook.”
Sam was a regular competitor at hair and style competitions in the 80s and 90s, enjoying considerable success with all-Ireland titles. However, because of the time commitment involved in preparing for such events, he stepped back after his children, Ryan and Samantha, came along.
A sports fan too - son Ryan is a defender with Carrick Rangers FC in the Danske Bank Premiership - he has had a few brushes with fame too.
“I used to cut (boxer) Carl Frampton’s hair. He lived around the corner from the shop.” Another recent customer was the Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast.
And ever the professional, he allows his talent to shine through at all times.
“I have had people asking for designs on the back of their head, including Liverpool badges,” joked Arsenal fan Sam.
Expressing gratitude to his loyal customers, Sam has no intentions of resting on his laurels. For the moment, however, he is happy to be a cut above the rest as the inaugural holder of the award that “recognises those who provide top class service and treatments to men, from a haircut to a beard trim, this is the one stop shop for male grooming”.
The awards, organised by Creative Oceanic, attracted thousands of nominations from the public. Also enjoying success was About Face Beauty Clinic, Carrick, which was the Beauty Salon of the Year Overall winner.