A FORMER hairdresser to the stars has been honoured in a tribute by his family and the hairdressing community this week.
Christopher Bond, who owned the string of Mr Christopher salons, passed away peacefully aged 71 on Thursday, September 13. His funeral is being held today.
The Bristol-born father of two and grandfather of one once worked with famous hairdresser Vidal Sassoon at a hair show.
"They met again years after they did the show together and he still remembered my dad," said his son Simon Bond, from Ledrah Road, St Austell.
He also styled pop icon Shirley Bassey's hair before she performed at the Coliseum in Carlyon Bay in the late-Eighties.
"She asked for the best hairdresser in the area and that was my dad.
"She had a reputation for being a real diva but my dad said she was really lovely."
Simon said his father also cut the hair of actress Susannah York, and Mary Wilson, who was wife of the then-prime minister Harold Wilson.
"I'm incredibly proud of what he did and it's a sad loss. It's amazing the impact he had on the area, because St Austell was very vibrant in the Eighties and he played a big part in that," he added.
Christopher Bond came to St Austell on a scooter in the mid-Sixties, aged 20, with his first wife on the back.
He lived in Tywardreath before he died.
He had three salons in St Austell – Vicarage Place, Fore Street and above the Card Cabin – as well as one in New Bridge Street, Truro, and one in Cross Street, Wadebridge.
"He used to do beauty contests and Miss Charlestown and all that. He was a charming man," said his son.
Simon was on holiday in Florida when he heard that doctors had found cancerous cells in his father.
"As we landed, he passed away," he said.
"The sad thing is that he was a shadow of his former self. People should remember him as he was; as a businessman and a terrific character."
He had bowel cancer, but died in his sleep at the Royal Cornwall Hospital at Treliske, Truro, from pneumonia.
Christopher Bond's mother is still alive at the age of 98, and was the one who introduced him to hairdressing.
He went to art college at first, but his mother saw an advert in a Bristol newspaper for a hairdressing apprenticeship and he went for it.
After a stint in London, he moved to Cornwall and worked in Johns Hair Studio in Tywardreath.
"He packed a lot into his life. Before he died, I asked him if he had any regrets and he said, 'no, I made a lot of money and had a hell of a time spending it'," said his son.
"We talked about the funeral about six months ago and he said he wanted That's Life by Frank Sinatra to be played. It sums him up really well."
He described his father as charming, enthusiastic, fun-loving and very charismatic: "He could control the room in his heyday. He had an aura about him – a fascinating guy."
"He always wore a suit to work. He had a great work ethic. He always used to say, 'if you're the boss you have to be the first there and the last to leave'."
Sharon Knight, who managed the Truro and St Austell salons for Mr Bond, said: "He was a total inspiration to me – a legend in his own right and I was fortunate to have my apprenticeship with him.
"He was a hard taskmaster but he made working pleasurable and we're all going to miss him. It was an honour to have known him."
Elaine Rowe, who now owns Hair Workshop in Trinity Street, St Austell, learnt her trade from Mr Bond in the early Eighties on a five-year apprenticeship at one of his salons: "He was an absolutely lovely man and all the girls who worked for him still have very fond memories of him," she said.
"It was a very busy salon. He cracked the whip and we all worked really hard. I was very sad to hear he'd passed away."
Mark Sampson, from the Lounge in Truro, also did an apprenticeship under Mr Bond for about three years in the Nineties.
"I have always spoken very highly of Chris because he gave me a lot of insight into the hairdressing business," he said.
"I got on really well with him. He was always very dapper. He liked his suits and his silver hair and was a great laugh."
Christopher Bond's funeral will be held at Bodmin Crematorium at 9.30am. His family said anyone is welcome to attend and pay their last respects.
A wake will take place afterwards at his local, the Ship Inn at Par, from about 11am onwards.