Chapter 23 » 23.59

The individual and the community

Work and economic affairs

Testimony concerning Percy Cleave (1880–1958):

By occupation he was a barber, and on moving into this district in 1937 from Swindon, he first took a shop in Wallington, and later one in a poor part of Croydon. Not all who went there did so for a shave or a haircut, but to enjoy its friendly atmosphere, and to talk to Percy. ‘I am sure,’ said a friend of his, ‘that as Percy rubbed oil into a customer’s hair, he blessed him.’ This would have been natural, since he desired all his actions to be sacramental. He was very positive in his relationships with others, and took a lively interest in all their doings… He was a man whom adversity had refined. It was often surprising when talking to him, to hear of the multitudes of troubles he and his wife had borne. He had accepted the changes and chances of this life, but had not forgotten them, and so could sympathise with those who were still struggling. He had great insight, and was able to see to the heart of a problem. Since he was in a small way of business which barely brought in sufficient money, he had a hard time which persisted until his retirement, when he sought so to arrange his life, that others could speak to him at leisure and without hurry. It was then that he ministered to some families of Friends by going to their homes and cutting their hair. It was pleasant to see him starting on the littlest ones and proceed in order to the adults. To have Percy cut your hair was a grace.

Kingston Monthly Meeting, 1958

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