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Preston barber tapped up to share expertise with Sri Lankan haircutters

Posted on - 21st April, 2021 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Business, People, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Proud Preston
John Monks
John Monks has been a barber since 1980

A Preston barber is sharing his expertise with trainees learning their craft thousands of miles away in Sri Lanka.

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John Monks from The Gents Room Barbershop was originally asked to travel to the Asian country last year, but when Covid-19 hit, plans were put on hold.

John, who describes the situation as ‘a bit random’, was asked to provide training for a company called Dunstans Barbers.

He said: “Dunstans is owned by a Sri Lankan entrepreneur. He has two barbershops, plus spas and wellness centres in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the Philippines.

“It’s a bit random, but they found me through a friend of an ex-colleague from my teacher training days. This lady delivers the training for the spas and wellness centres.”

Read more: Beauty salon to open in new Garstang Road development in Fulwood

With travel on hold, John recently started training Dunstans’ barbers and apprentices virtually via Zoom.

For the first session, John recorded a haircutting demonstration for trainees to watch before leading the live training session.

John delivering the training via Zoom
John delivering the training via Zoom

John said: “It was good fun producing the video for them, but filming was a bit difficult. Because of social distancing I was unable to have an extra person there with a camera for close ups!

“We learnt a lot from the live training, and the feedback from the barbers over there was positive.”

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This is just the latest adventure for John in what has been a long and varied career in barbering.

After qualifying in hairdressing and barbering in 1980, John spent the initial three years of his career working in a barbershop in Preston before opening his first business in Garstang.

“I had the business for over 12 years, converting it from a barbershop into a unisex salon. I sold up in 1995 and went into teaching.

“I’ve taught at Wigan and Leigh College, South Trafford College and Carlisle College. In 2005 I worked in the Falkland Islands, managing the hair salon on the military base.”

John opened The Gents Room Barbershop in 2011. It’s located on the first floor of Jo and Cass Hair and Beauty opposite the train station in Fishergate.

The Gents Room Barbershop is located on the first floor of Jo & Cass
The Gents Room Barbershop is located on the first floor of Jo & Cass in the city centre

John has had much success with the barbershop, including gaining Good Barbers Guide status just one year after opening, and winning Best Barbershop for the North West in the 2017 English Hair and Beauty Awards.

This year the shop has reached the finals of the British Hair and Beauty Awards.

Read more: Ashton eyelash salon is finalist in 2021 UK Hair and Beauty Awards

Unable to open his business for much of the past year, John has kept busy by working with the Hair and Beauty Industry Association (HABIA) as an industry expert, updating the NVQs in hairdressing and barbering.

As restrictions begin to ease, John is looking ahead and hopeful that he will eventually get to train the Sri Lankan barbers and apprentices in person.

“It’s been mentioned that they would prefer me to be there so, once I have received my second vaccination and restrictions ease on travel, there may still be the possibility of getting out there!”


Proud Preston. This, and many stories like it, show how the people of Preston are making a difference. Our Proud Preston section showcases all the charitable, kind, uplifting and great things about our city and the people who live here. #ProudPreston is alive and well, and there’s much to celebrate and be proud of, despite the challenging times we all face.

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What do you think of John teaching barbers in Sri Lanka? Let us know in the comments.

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