Tributes paid to charitable Islington barber who cut Churchill’s hair

A stalwart community campaigner and charitable barber who cut Winston Churchill’s hair on several occasions has died aged 94.

Romolo ‘Ron’ Casale, of Richmond Grove, who lived Islington since 1935, was in the trade for more than 50 years, cutting hair including the then Prime Minister’s when he served in the RAF during World War Two.

Following the war, he ran a free hairdressing service for those hospitalised and housebound alongside his barber shop business in Essex Road, Islington.

Granddaughter Debbie Casale said: “After his success it seemed to spur him on to help people more. He had to get it agreed, after quite a struggle, by the council and they gave his project their blessing, it was then taken up by other boroughs. It became known as the Domiciliary Hair Service.”

Audrey, 77, his second wife, said: “I used to drive Ron to homes and hospitals all the time for years. I’d wait while he cut hair, and it was not only men’s, but he sometimes did women’s hairdressing as well. Ron knew to help people recover or feel better, a great hairstyle might be just the remedy for them and their self-esteem.”

Mr Casale, who was born in Cardiff to Italian parents, will also be remembered for his impact on life in Islington. Concerned with the rights of tenants and residents, with his wife he formed a non-aligned political party called the Tenants and Residents (T&R) Group in the late 80s.

It took 28 per cent of the vote from the Labour Party, mostly in Islington South and Finsbury, which handed the Liberal Democrats control of Islington Council.

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Every Sunday for years thereafter Mr and Mrs Casale, with other members of the T&R Group, used Highbury roundabout as a speakers’ corner, highlighting public concerns.

Mr Casale spent 16 years as a tenants’ representative and four years as the chairman of FITA (Federation of Islington Tenants Association).

Friend Patrick Edlin said: “Ron had a remarkable impact on all our lives in the borough of Islington.”

He is survived by 14 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.