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'Very, very special' legendary Ipswich hairdresser dies

Former hairdressing teacher Valerie Hutchison, from Ipswich, pictured in 2011. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT/ARCHANT LIBRARY

Former hairdressing teacher Valerie Hutchison, from Ipswich, pictured in 2011. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT/ARCHANT LIBRARY

She was a "very, very special" woman who taught generations of Ipswich hairdressers to be a cut above the rest. And now heartfelt tributes of flowers and cards are pouring in following the death of legendary hairdressing tutor Valerie Hutchison.

Valerie Hutchison pictured in 2011 giving her husband Bryan a haircut. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT/ARCHANT LIBRARYValerie Hutchison pictured in 2011 giving her husband Bryan a haircut. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT/ARCHANT LIBRARY

Even years after she retired from Suffolk College in 1996, Mrs Hutchison could not go anywhere in Ipswich without being recognised by former students from 10, 20 or even 30 years before.

Born and bred in the town she loved, she attended Springwood Junior and Westbourne High schools and originally worked as a chemist before starting a hairdressing apprenticeship at Jarman's.

Having got the highest grades in her course, she was approached by what was then Ipswich Civic College to teach future students when it opened in 1963.

Originally working part-time while raising her two children, Garrod and Lynn, she worked full-time from 1979.

Valerie and Bryan Hutchison pictured on their wedding day. Picture: COURTESY OF HUTCHISON FAMILYValerie and Bryan Hutchison pictured on their wedding day. Picture: COURTESY OF HUTCHISON FAMILY

And after retiring aged 60 in 1996, went back to work as an apprenticeships quality assessor at John Michael Hairdressing, which works across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex.

"Everyone knew my mum," said daughter Lynn Cross, aged 54.

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"We've had so many cards and flowers. She was very well known and very well loved.

Bryan and Valerie Hutchison pictured for their golden wedding anniversary. 

Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANT LIBRARYBryan and Valerie Hutchison pictured for their golden wedding anniversary. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANT LIBRARY

"People would come up to her in Ipswich and say: 'Hello, you taught me in the 1970s.' She was a very, very special person.

"She was a very kind person, genuinely interested in other people and would always offer a helping hand.

"She genuinely loved working with young people. She had really good active listening and problem solving skills - not having all the answers, but helping people to find their own path.

"She was quite extraordinary. I was so privileged to have her as my mum."

In her personal life, she was an avid globetrotter - travelling extensively with her husband Bryan 'Buddy' Hutchison to south-east Asia, the Americas, Australia and more.

The couple met as teenagers during a dance at Ipswich's Manor Ballroom in what Mrs Cross described as a "real love story" - and would remain married for more than 50 years.

Mrs Hutchison died last week, fours years to the day since her husband died. After living all her life in Ipswich, she had moved to Bristol shortly after Mr Hutchison's death to be closer to family.

As well as her two children, she leaves behind four grandchildren. A funeral is due to be held in the Bristol area on Monday, June 24, many friends from Ipswich are travelling to the West Country for.

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