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Obituary: Tony Collard – Lymington hairdresser and ballroom dancing champion

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LONGSTANDING Lymington hairdresser and sailor Tony Collard has died at the age of 86.

Well known for running Toppers International Barbers Shop in Queen Street for more than three decades, he also spent several years sailing the world as a cruise ship stylist.

Tony was previously a champion ballroom dancer and appeared on TV shows including the original Come Dancing.

Tony appeared on the original Come Dancing TV show
Tony appeared on the original Come Dancing TV show

Tony grew up in a dancing family and quickly followed in his parents’ rhythmical footsteps to take up ballroom.

As a teen he competed across the UK and won the Star Junior National Championship at the age of 15.

After leaving school Tony trained as a hairdresser, and in 1956 secured a job as a stylist aboard P&O cruise ships travelling between the UK and New Zealand.

In 1959 he transferred to work aboard the Nevasa before joining the crew of the Himalaya on P&O’s first round-the-world cruise.

During his years at sea, Tony often styled the rich and famous, including a number of the cruise ship performers.

His passion for ballroom dancing also endured, with Tony competing around the country during shore leave.

It was through dancing that Tony met his future wife. The pair were frequent performers on TV dance shows including Come Dancing and Victor Silvester’s Television Dancing Club.

In 1968 Tony opened his first hair salon and barber in Worthing, and later went on to secure the contract to run the salons at Butlin’s holiday parks across the UK.

A lifelong love of sailing prompted a move to Lymington. Soon after moving to the town, Tony opened Toppers International Barbers where he built up a devoted client base.

A relative said: “Along with ballroom dancing and sailing, hairdressing really was Tony’s life.

“He absolutely loved his job and all his customers – many of whom became friends.

“He could never go round Waitrose or walk through Lymington without people stopping to chat to Tony.”

Tony continued to run Toppers until January when he finally retired.

After a minor heart attack in 1997, Tony made a full recovery. But this year he was taken ill and died at home on 20th March.

Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date but Those wishing to donate in Tony’s memory can give to the RNLI.

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