Four incredible women fighting on the coronavirus frontline are pampered at a Mayfair salon for their first haircut in months as millions celebrate today’s reopening of hairdressers
Pubs and restaurants may be opening today but for millions of women, there’s only one reason to celebrate Super Saturday – the hairdressing salons are open again.
And who better to treat to some of the first ever haircuts than four women who have made a real difference to others over lockdown.
The Mail invited four incredible women to the Jo Hansford salon in Mayfair for a pampering treat.
It will be lovely to look in the mirror and not cringe
Rachel West, 35, is an intensive care nurse at Queen’s hospital, Romford.
She lives in Brentwood, Essex with husband John, 35, an events manager and their daughter Ruby, three.
She says: In the weeks leading up to crisis, it was very much the calm before the storm.
At the hospital there was lots of talk about what was going to happen but nobody really knew how it was going to affect us so it was a very anxious time.
The last time I went to the hairdressers was at the end of January, says Rachel West, 35, an intensive care nurse at Queen’s hospital, Romford
Then, just before lockdown, I turned up to work in my normal uniform and was told to change into scrubs and PPE ‘because we have our first case of coronavirus’.
That’s when everything changed. I’ve never seen the Intensive Care Unit so busy. Normally you have one staff member to one patient, but were working on a ratio of one to four and the nurses could barely squeeze between the beds.
We were seeing more and more cases heading to the High Dependency Unit too.
If I’m honest, I was incredibly scared at times, particularly when fellow staff members became ill and started being admitted to our wards.
I have a young family and worried about taking the infection back home. There were days when I thought: ‘I really don’t want to die just doing my job’.
Rachel West, pictured above in a mask, says: ‘Being called a hero during the crisis was a bit strange. We all felt good about what we were doing and it was lovely to be appreciated but really, we’re just doing our job’
Sadly many people did die – including a consultant at the hospital – and one of the hardest parts for me was seeing people dying alone. I remember nursing a patient in their 40s and speaking to their father on the telephone who was in tears because he couldn’t say goodbye.
That was very tough. But the camaraderie and the professionalism of the NHS staff keeps you going and many of my colleagues worked for much longer than me on the frontline and in fact, many are still there.
I’m now working with Public Health England and doing tests – swabbing people in places like the National Gallery and Heathrow airport.
Being called a hero during the crisis was a bit strange. We all felt good about what we were doing and it was lovely to be appreciated but really, we’re just doing our job.
Ms West, pictured above after her haircut, said: ‘I’ve got quite a small face which gets lost if my hair grows too long so I love the fact that the stylist has taken off a few inches into this blunt bob. The colour is beautiful too’
Lockdown hair before: The last time I went to the hairdressers was at the end of January. I was due to have it cut and dyed when lockdown started so I really missed the boat and it looks horrendous now.
My dark roots are about three inches long and although I’m only 35, there are plenty of grey hairs. It does make you feel a bit rubbish about yourself and I can’t remember the last time I wore my hair down.
I’ve not done anything with it over lockdown and I’m happy for the team to do whatever they want – I trust them and it will be lovely to look in the mirror and not think I look awful!
After: I absolutely love it. I’ve got quite a small face which gets lost if my hair grows too long so I love the fact that the stylist has taken off a few inches into this blunt bob. The colour is beautiful too. Thank you so much.
Wearing all the PPE on the wards covered up my roots!
Rachel Wilson, 46, is a nurse who has been working in two hospitals during the crisis.
She lives with her husband and children George, 15, Alice, 13 and their pet dog Rosie in St Albans, Herts.
She says: During lockdown I’ve been working two jobs in the intensive care unit at Watford General Hospital and in the wards of Lewisham Hospital in South East London.
My hair hasn’t been a priority for months, says Rachel Wilson, 46, a nurse who has been working in two hospitals during the crisis
I’m trained as an intensive care nurse but pre-Covid, I was working in clinics. But as the tsunami of patients started coming in, I started working back on the wards.
I even worked during my two-week break at Easter: it didn’t feel right to be sitting at home when my colleagues needed help and the wards were short-staffed because so many were sick themselves.
Thankfully, I don’t seem to have had it. I’ve been very lucky. The numbers were particularly bad at Lewisham early on.
We’d never seen anything like it because patients would come into hospital with very low oxygen levels but they would be happy and chatty – they call it ‘happy hypoxia’.
Although it’s been a challenging time – and it was particularly horrible around April when there were so many deaths – thankfully things have calmed down, says Rachel Wilson, pictured above wearing a mask
But in a very short space of time, they’d deteriorate and become very sick. Sadly, we saw a lot of deaths and it’s been incredibly upsetting at times. Usually, when I’ve had a bad day at work I can come home to my husband and offload onto him but this was too intense and upsetting for even him to hear.
So nurses have been relying on each other so much more for support. Although it’s been a challenging time – and it was particularly horrible around April when there were so many deaths – thankfully things have calmed down.
The Thursday clap was a real boost for everyone and I even had a little cry when a neighbour brought round a bottle of wine to say thanks. But I’m not a hero, I was just doing what I’ve always done and that’s be a nurse.
My lockdown hair before: My hair hasn’t been a priority for months.
A semi-permanent root highlighter has been my saviour when I’ve needed a little touch-up but I’ve been wearing so much PPE at work that it hasn’t really mattered.
With my hair net on, one of my nursing colleagues said I was wearing the ‘classic dinner lady look’ so I’m really looking forward to having my hair done properly by professionals. I just want to feel like me again.
After: I’m so pleased and can’t stop smiling. It’s amazing how good you feel when your hair has just been done. I just need a nice bar or restaurant to go to now!
Ms Wilson, pictured after her haircut, said: ‘I’m so pleased and can’t stop smiling’
Now I look like my baby’s mother instead of her grandmother
Janet Palmer, 36, is an outreach worker for non-profit credit union (a community led initiative helping people in poverty).
She lives with her partner Richard, 36, a retail manager and their four daughters Lillie, nine, Olivia, eight, Lexi, two and Evie, three months.
She says: No one can prepare for a situation like this and it always hurts the most vulnerable in society.
Colouring my hair was one of those things that I kept meaning to do before lockdown and didn’t get round to it, says Janet Palmer, 36, an outreach worker for non-profit credit union
I work with people who literally can’t afford the bus fare into town to withdraw their last £5 from the bank so I’m there to make sure they get the help and financial advice they need.
So many people have lost their jobs and incomes during this crisis and the council often directs them to us so we can help them pay for basics such as food, gas and electricity. We’re always busy because we cover an area with a high rate of low income families.
But during the crisis we’ve been insanely busy. There are only 18 of us, and although I’m paid, most of the team are volunteers.
A few weeks before lockdown, halfway through my pregnancy, I started having trouble breathing and couldn’t feel the baby move. I went to hospital and although the baby was fine, I was diagnosed with arrythmia and heart failure.
Janet Palmer is pictured above during her haircut. She said: ‘I love my job and it’s incredibly rewarding – even though juggling it with a newborn and three other little girls is a challenge’
Even so, I was trying to work from my hospital bed for two weeks while I was monitored and underwent lots of tests, answering messages and emails from desperate people.
I went into lockdown early because of my diagnosis and I had my fourth daughter on 1st April by C section.
Giving birth on the day where the deaths spiked was surreal. I remember going into the hospital as they were wheeling bodies out and Richard didn’t want to leave me there.
But Evie was born healthy, and we’ve been home ever since. The problem with my heart may never go away and I’m still having tests. But although I’m on maternity leave I’ve still been doing as much as I can to help those in need. It’s not a job you can just walk away from.
I’ve answered messages, kept the social media up to date, directed people towards the right help. We’ve seen so many people lose their jobs and income and our aim is to stop people taking out pay day loans or borrowing from loan sharks.
I love my job and it’s incredibly rewarding – even though juggling it with a newborn and three other little girls is a challenge.
Ms Palmer, pictured above with her lockdown hair after, said: ‘I can’t believe the difference. I’ve gone from looking like my baby’s grandmother to her mother’
Lockdown hair before: Colouring my hair was one of those things that I kept meaning to do before lockdown and didn’t get round to it. Then lockdown happened and our new baby arrived.
Like everyone in my family, I started going grey in my teens. But the grey is really showing through now and I’m so fed up of it. The condition is poor too. I can’t wait to see what the salon will do for me.
Lockdown hair after: I can’t believe the difference. I’ve gone from looking like my baby’s grandmother to her mother. I love the shorter length, it feels like it’s in much better condition now and I’m really pleased with the colour. My children are not going to recognise me!
Sabina Motasem, 48, is a wedding dress designer. She lives in Islington, North London.
She says: When lockdown was announced it was clear there were going to be no more weddings for a while. But I wanted to keep busy and besides, I wanted to help in whatever way I could.
I’d heard about the Scrub Hub, a network of voluntary community groups who love to sew who were making scrubs to order for NHS staff struggling in the crisis.
I created the Islington and North Hackney Scrub Hub and within days I’d brought together a team of around 20-plus experienced seamstresses and pattern cutters and kind volunteers who had all approached us.
Sabina Motasem, 48, a wedding dress designer, says: ‘The last time I went to the hairdresser’s was in January so it’s been more than six months’
My seamstresses are more used to making couture silk wedding gowns costing thousands of pounds but turned their skills towards making polycotton scrubs with no problem at all. Between us, we made just under 1,400 scrubs and 2,000 masks – an incredible effort.
We have lots of brides who are doctors and when we first began, they gave us feedback, saying that most scrubs are made for men and and don’t fit particularly well.
My top priority was to ensure the NHS staff all felt as comfortable as possible during their long shifts so we designed scrubs with elastic which could withstand hot 60 degree washes.
Our scrubs ended up in over 20 hospitals, medical centres and care homes and we’ve received lots of messages from happy female doctors saying they’re much more comfortable. Lockdown itself for me had its ups and downs.
Ms Motasem, pictured above with her lockdown hair after, said: ‘I love my new look and it’s so nice to get the greys covered and have my hair straightened’
Just a few weeks after a heart operation, my 79-year-old father caught coronavirus and was in hospital for several weeks. We were scared we could lose him. It really brought the pandemic into sharp focus. Thankfully, he survived and he’s home now.
It’s been so rewarding and has made me rethink how I can help the community in the future.
I’ve decided to move my business online, because I want to ensure everyone’s safety and I’ve made a vegan and sustainable ready-to-wear fashion range called The Green Collection.
It’s been a strange situation but if everyone can adapt, we will be fine.
My lockdown hair before: The last time I went to the hairdresser’s was in January so it’s been more than six months. I usually dye it black but as the silvery grey roots have come through, I haven’t minded as much as I thought I would.
In fact, I’ve grown used to them. But that’s not to say I’m not ready for a colour, cut and possibly a new style. I’m hoping to go a rich, dark brown and as it’s grown so long, I don’t mind losing a few inches and cut into a different style. It’s so curly that it needs a style that will give it some bounce.
After: I love my new look and it’s so nice to get the greys covered and have my hair straightened. I’ve not been anywhere near the hair straighteners during lockdown so this is a really nice treat. It’s also lovely to try a different colour too.
I’ve always dyed my hair black but this rich deep brunette is gorgeous and the style will work well with my natural curls. Thank you!
The Jo Hansford salon treated the ladies in a private room on a training day following all PPE and safety guidelines.
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