AN ULVERSTON hairdresser is hanging up his scissors after more than fifty years in the profession.

Eric Ward, 72, undertook an apprenticeship in Grange-over-Sands before heading to college in Preston.

It was a career that Mr Ward, originally from Barrow, said he 'drifted' into, having no desire to work in shipbuilding.

"At the hairdressing college in Preston there were quite a lot of men but it was unusual," he said, talking about his decision as a young man to pursue a career in hairdressing.

He moved to Ulverston in 1966 to work for Margaret Myers, taking over the running of his Market Place shop in 1970.

Mr Ward was then able to buy the premises in 1984, at first working upstairs and eventually moving to the ground floor of the premises.

He said that some of his clients followed him from Grange-over-Sands and have been with him for more than 50 years.

Although he agreed that they would be sad to see him go, it felt like it was 'time' for him to retire.

"I've had a super career," he said. "Helped by the people who have worked here and by loyal customers.

"I've enjoyed every single minute of it."

Although initially an expert in wedding hair, he said that times have changed with brides often opting to get in-house stylists to go to their hotel rooms on their wedding days.

Mr Ward believes he has been a shopkeeper longer than anybody else in Ulverston and has seen the town change over the years.

He plans on spending his well-deserved retirement singing, walking and intends to join the University of the Third Age, which aims to educate retired members of the community.

"I'm not looking at it as the end of a wonderful part of my life," he said."I'm looking at it as the beginning of the next part."

Mr Ward will still own the premises but Helen Roberts, one of his two current employees, will be taking over the running of the shop, renaming it 'It's Lovely Hair and Beauty'.

"She is fantastic," he said. " My clients are in capable hands with Helen."

And Mr Ward, an Ulverston resident, hopes that the town might recognise his contributions to Furness.

"I'm waiting for a monument like the Stan Laurel monument outside the Coronation Hall," he joked. "Or a blue plaque on the wall."

Mr Ward will officially retire on May 1.