A barber who set up his shop in Buckinghamshire thirty years ago has finally hung up his scissors after declaring that his life is ‘what he wanted it to be’.

Filippo Festa, 81, arrived in Hazlemere, High Wycombe from Italy over 60 years ago and, after a stint in Hazlemere Hair under his brother-in-law, set out on his own with the soon-to-become community hotspot, Filippo’s Barber Shop on Rose Avenue in 1990. 

After decades of cutting the hair of young (one to two-year-olds) and old (one customer, he remembers, was 106), Filippo – fondly nicknamed ‘Fil’ by his co-workers – stepped back to a part-time role in the summer of 2020, and hung up his scissors for good a month ago at the end of December.

The shop was renamed John’s Barber Shop four years ago after ownership was handed to John Philips, who had worked under Filippo for years at Hazlemere Hair, but despite the changes, the 81-year-old still walks down to Rose Avenue every day for a coffee, a newspaper and a chat. 

He was, however, taken aback by the community’s response to his retirement, especially when, on his last day, two separate customers stopped by to hand him envelopes of £50 and £60 respectively, telling him: ‘We appreciate what you’ve done here for all these years’.

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“Time moves forward, and you can’t keep going forever. It's been a good life, and now I’ve got a granddaughter who was born six months ago and who has quite the personality already. I also have a grandson, who’s 12-years-old in May. He’s bigger than me already and he’s been to Italy maybe eight times – he loves it.”

Spending more time with his family after stepping down from the barber shop has Filippo reflecting on his journey up to this point – beginning in Naples when he used to cut his cousin’s hair at just 11-years-old, and, after children, a divorce, and three decades at the helm of Filippo’s Barber Shop, ending right where he is now – ambling down each morning to see his decades-long co-workers and the customers for whose entire families he has offered his services.

One long-term customer who has dementia spotted Filippo while waiting outside the shop a few weeks ago and asked him for a haircut, and another, whom the 81-year-old bumped into whilst out on a walk, asked for his phone number so they could arrange a house call – both promised appointments he plans to follow through on, despite his official retirement.

"Life goes on, and I don't want to be a burden to anybody. This is all I've ever done - I can't do anything else! But I've been lucky. My life is what I wanted it to be."