For the past 22 years, 103 High Street in North Berwick has been home to the hairdressing salon Melvin & Friends, and very much within the heart of the local community.

The owner of that salon, Melvin Wood, passed away suddenly on holiday in Tenerife on September 20, aged 62. He succumbed to heart failure. 

His wife Lorna said: “We were in our favourite hotel and were very happy and relaxed.

“It was very sudden and unexpected but he didn’t suffer and his final memories were happy ones.”  

Melvin made North Berwick his family home and workplace and was well known as a larger-than-life character in the community. 

He was born on September 25, 1956, in Edinburgh. His father John was a director at Lyon & Turnbull, auctioneers and valuators on George Street. His mother Sybil was a well-known character in her own right, known by many as Sybs, Squibs and Grandma Swag.

Melvin attended Melville College but left at the age of 15 as school wasn’t for him. He was more interested in his mum’s Vogue magazines.

He got his first job soon after at His Hair, which started his love of hairdressing.  He moved onto Charlie Miller, where he didn’t get off to the best start: Charlie told his father that Melvin would be better off working as a plumber.

But Charlie saw Melvin’s passion and decided that if he wanted to be a hairdresser he should go train with the best, so in the early 1970s he supported Melvin so he could go to London and train at Vidal Sassoon.

During his time in London he got the opportunity to work on high-profile projects such as wigs for singer Diana Ross. Other famous clients included La Toya Jackson, Dustin Hoffman and Shirley Bassey, who famously threw a shoe at him.

In 1976 he entered the first Scottish Wella Vogue competition, winning with his creation of tartan hair. He was featured in the national and international press, on national TV, and even appeared in Rolling Stone and Playboy magazines.

He was asked to go to America with Vidal Sassoon but he wanted to come home so moved back to Edinburgh. With the support of his family he opened Melvin & Friends in November 1977 on the city’s Castle Street.

His philosophy was always ‘Hairdressing Naturally’ and he believed in using biodegradable products not tested on animals.

The business expanded and he opened salons in many places including Alnwick, Peebles and several in and around Edinburgh. He even opened a salon in the Sheraton Hotel.

In 1988, Melvin became the proud father of Oliver, who filled the air with fun and laughter, having many happy times growing up. 

In 1991, Melvin met Lorna through a mutual friend. They set up home together, moving near to Haddington in 1994 and were married in 1995, then moving the business to North Berwick in 1997.

In 1998, their family grew with the birth of Hannah.

Melvin worked in the salon in North Berwick for 22 years, where he had a loyal following.

Many local youngsters had their first jobs in the salon and Melvin taught them as a qualified SVQ mentor and a master hairdresser in the Hairdressers Council. When North Berwick High School had a hair training salon, he held sessions on the basics of hairdressing.

Many stories could be told about his days in the salon, like when golf’s The Open Championship was held and top player Vijay Singh came in for a cut.

Melvin, not being a golfer, did not know who he was, but they got chatting and Vijay said he was here for golf, so Melvin very kindly recommended some of the courses his customers had told him about!

During the early days, Melvin could be found at the town’s Nether Abbey Hotel; sometimes as a customer but sometimes as the chef as he had a great love for cooking.

Many happy times were spent there and many parties were had, where Melvin was given access to the kitchens and, along with friends, did the catering.

For his 40th birthday, he cooked for 40 friends.

He was also famous every year for his barbecues held at the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune during its airshow.

Melvin liked people to appreciate his food; he would make lunch for the girls who worked in the salon, just liking to see them eat and enjoy.  He taught Hannah to cook and was so proud of what she produced in the kitchen.

Added his wife: “Melvin was a great dad, he was fun and made sure he did fun things with his children. He was so proud of me and them, and would brag about what they had achieved, often embellishing the stories.

“He was a wonderful, loving husband who really looked after me.

“He grabbed life with a passion and he lived every day to the full, which is a great comfort. I am so grateful to have been able to spend the last 28 years with him. Although he will be greatly missed, he will never be forgotten.”

Judy Lockhart, North Berwick Community Council chairwoman, said: “North Berwick Community Council was extremely saddened to hear of the recent and untimely passing of Melvin Wood of Melvin & Friends.

“Melvin was one of North Berwick’s most loved characters. As well as being a superb hairdresser, he had a larger-than-life personality and was also a very talented cook.

“Melvin famously hosted an annual barbecue on the day of the airshow which was the calender invite of the year for many.

“You could never fail to smile when in the company of Melvin and he will be sorely missed.”

A celebration-of-life party is being organised by his family, to be held in January.