Former Salisbury barber John Mason dies from Covid aged 93

A former barber known for his banter and friendly personality has died after catching Covid, a week before his 94th birthday.

John Mason, founder of John’s Barber Shop, passed away at Salisbury District Hospital on Monday, February 15.

Last month he and his wife Rose, 82, had received the first dose of the Covid vaccine at Salisbury Cathedral.

But after being taken to hospital for an unrelated illness, John developed a cough and had to be readmitted shortly afterwards, his son Daniel said.

His death has been “heartbreaking” for the family.

However, they are keen to pay tribute to his “gregarious” and “friendly” personality and everything he’s achieved.

The barber shop

Salisbury Journal: John in his days as a barberJohn in his days as a barber

Originally from Braishfield, Hampshire, John opened his first barber shop in Hythe in 1954, after a short spell at engineering company Vickers-Armstrongs.

In 1977 he and his wife moved to Salisbury where John opened John’s Barber Shop in Castle Street, on January 9, 1978.

“He loved the customers, he loved to talk to people, he was very much a people person,” Daniel said.

“He opened his shop at 6am and shut the shop at 6pm, he worked very hard, Monday to Saturday.”

John’s “gregarious” personality was a hit with customers.

“They would come in for that as much as they would for a haircut.”

And after his retirement in 1997, John would still visit the shop, now run by his son from new premises in Fisherton Street, to chat to customers while they were having their hair cut.

The vaccine and the illness

In the last few years, John had become frail but when the local vaccine rollout began around four weeks ago, he and his wife were contacted to get the jab.

“It’s sad because they were doing well, I drove them up to Salisbury Cathedral to get the first injection and then he had symptoms for something completely different and was taken into hospital,” Daniel said.

“He wasn’t very well. He was there for a couple of nights and we believe he caught it then.

“Two weeks ago he seemed not to be too bad and he came home but he had a cough and it was persistent so he went back into hospital a week ago.”

Although the vaccine should have provided him with some protection, John also had other underlying health conditions.

It also seems likely John caught coronavirus before the protection of the first dose could build up in his body.

“Because of his weakness and with the other illnesses, he wasn’t in the best position,” his son said.

“He had a good life, he certainly made the most of his life and he never really looked his age until the last few years when everything came at once.”

‘We’re very proud’

Speaking on behalf on his sister Hannah, who lives near Bath, his mum Rose and wife Paula, Daniel said: “We loved him very much, we’re very proud of what he did and I know that there are lots of old customers out there that enjoyed spending time with him.

“He was a big part of Salisbury for several decades. 

“Some of my customers are his old customers, they grew up with him and I cut some of their children’s hair now.”

John will be greatly missed by his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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