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Lanarkshire pensioner makes the cut to train to become barber

By Shirley Bartynek

An Uddingston pensioner is returning to his roots to take up a career in barbering – four decades after first picking up a set of clippers.

Refusing to fade away, James Cleland, 66, will train under top barber – Kyle Ross – after joining the latest in-take of students at the Sovereign Grooming Academy in Glasgow.

In a varied career, James has sold homes for an estate agent, hit the decks as a DJ, had a spell as a disco dancer in Benidorm, and at one time owned a pub and a café.

Self-employed for the last 30 years, James is now following his dream of putting a mobile hair salon on the road and has signed up to retrain as a barber at Sovereign Grooming's Academy.

Sovereign’s intensive course equips students with the qualifications they need to become a barber in 15-weeks.

James told Lanarkshire Live: “Some people will wonder why I’m starting out on a new career at 66 but I like to keep busy and I’m definitely not ready to retire. I might be a pensioner but I can’t sit in the house, it’s just not me. You only have one life – live it.

“I had a two-year spell as a barber when I was in my 20s and it has always been a goal of mine to return to the industry. I’ve been putting it off for a while but it’s finally time to take the plunge and follow my dream.”

James in investing up to £35,000 in a custom-built van which will be fully accessible to disabled people.

He plans to visit retirement homes and elderly care facilities and will also be available for haircuts and grooming services outside gyms and at office and workplaces across South Lanarkshire.

(Freelance)

He added: “The course at Sovereign Grooming Academy was absolutely ideal for me. To be qualified in just 15 weeks is ideal and means I can hit the road in my mobile van as soon as I finish the course.

“I barbered 40 years ago and have done a bit of hairdressing in my time. More recently I did a stint in a homeless unit cutting hair for free to get some experience – but now I am getting familiar with ‘long cuts’ and fades and I can’t wait to get started properly.”

James is one of 36 students who will graduate each year at the academy which was founded by barber Kyle Ross.

Kyle said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have James as a mature student at the Sovereign Grooming Academy – it really highlights that you’re never too late to chase your dreams."

“We’re committed to giving our students the best possible experience and by passing down all the tips we can to James, we can hopefully help him on his journey of starting his barbering van.”

Kyle Ross founded Sovereign Grooming in 2016, opening the first salon on Aberdeen’s Union Street.

The brand has since opened a state-of-the-art salon in Edinburgh’s New Waverly - followed by a contemporary salon and barbering academy in Glasgow city centre’s Renfield Street.

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Dive Deeper:
We'll wreck Celtic's title party because we want to win, says Motherwell striker
Kevin van Veen says Well should travel to Celtic Park with confidence against the Premiership champions
The barber who's been cutting hair for 50 years and has seen and heard it all
He used to charge 16p when he started
Kemar Roofe in Rangers running out of time fear over Europa League Final 'close call'
Rangers are hoping Roofe will be fit to lead the line in Seville but just a week out, Van Bronckhorst…
Rangers kids must be given their chance as part of Giovanni van Bronckhorst's Ibrox rebuild
GIOVANNI VAN BRONCKHORST offered Rangers fans a glimpse into the future on Sunday. Time will tell how bright it is…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Farewell, Fred Ward, best buddy ever
The lesson from Earl in my favorite film "Tremors" is how to be a good friend
Mark Noble interview: ‘West Ham has been my life since I was 11 and I’m going to miss it terribly’
Mark Noble has come a long way since, as a kid from Canning Town, he used to wait until the…
Get all your news in one place