Michalis Georgiou, known to generations of British troops as the barber at Dhekelia Station in Cyprus, has retired.
Known simply as ‘Michael’, he is something of a station institution after 44 years cutting hair on the base.
He grew up in Famagusta, now part of the Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, and his first job was in a supermarket where he earned two shillings a week.
He barbered in the evenings and it was a chance meeting with a customer that changed his life.
In 1974, Cyprus was torn apart by a vicious civil war and Mr Georgiou and his family fled to a refugee camp at Dhekelia.
Having previously cut the garrison commander’s hair, the man made Mr Georgiou an offer:
“He said, ‘Michael, what do you want? I’m the boss here.’
“I said, ‘I’m the barber!’ He make barber shop for me!”
At one point, in the 1970s, there were more than 9,000 troops stationed at the base and Mr Georgiou had up to 30 customers a day.
Things have been quieter more recently, but his many years of faithful service have not gone unnoticed: he has earned a commendation from the Commander of British Forces Cyprus for his “distinguished service” and even Royal recognition when the Queen visited the base.
Now 79 and after four and a half decades of service, he wants to spend more time with his wife and 11 grandchildren.
“I want to enjoy retirement,” he said.
“Now [is] time to retire, I feel sorry to go [in] one way but a happy way!”
A Dhekelia institution has hung up his clippers for good.