A barber who spent his entire hairdressing career working for a Watford business has retired after more than 42 years.

Mario Petagine has worked for Headhunters in Lower High Street since he was 22-years-old, having moved to the town from Italy.

Now aged 65-years-old, he looks back on a career shaping the town’s hairstyles, from long locks of the 1970s to today’s shorter fashions.

He said: "I chose to be a barber after I finished school because I decided it would be a good job.

"I moved from southern Italy to Rome first, and then to Watford. Some of my brothers and sisters lived here and told me it was a better life.

"When I first came here I didn’t speak any English and I had to communicate with a lot of sign language.

"I wanted to go back because of the language problem but after two or three weeks I started to go out and meet people."

He made friends with Tony Alexandrou, owner of Headhunters, and has worked for him ever since.

Tony’s wife Christine, who has also known Mario since the 1970s, said: "He’s an experienced hairdresser, he’s done every style since the 1970s and has passed on his expertise to our younger members of staff.

"He’s a superb, naturally gifted hairdresser, he could dress my hair in finger-waves all the way down. It was just naturally in his hands.

"Staff that are steady and reliable, who will be there if there is a problem, and will always give their best, are just gold."

Although Mr Petagine has retired he will still work on Fridays and Saturdays in order to look after his long-standing clients.

Ian Winning of St Albans has been one of Mr Petagine’s regular customers for more than 30 years and said: "I wish him a happy retirement - he really deserves it.

"I shall really miss having him cut my hair. He takes a lot of time and trouble to make sure it’s done just right and doesn’t just use clippers like many barbers seem to these days."

Mr Petagine retired on his 65th birthday, on Monday, and will be presented with a pair of gold hairdressing scissors at a celebratory dinner in March.

He added: "In the 70s there were not as many barber shops and it was much easier to make a living. I used to do a lot of quiffs in the Elvis style or longer hairstyles like The Beatles.

"Nowadays most people now want a very short haircut on the sides and back, and very spiky and messy on the top.

"I’ve got a lot of customers who come regularly so I’m hoping they’ll still come in."