Norwich hairdresser’s charity cycle challenge

To celebrate 25 years in hairdressing in Norwich hair stylist Adrian Dunham is tackling his biggest challenge yet in a bid to raise money for charity. Emma Harrowing reports.

There have been many independent businesses in Norwich celebrating 25 years in business over the past year. Many have marked this milestone with a party or special discounts and competitions, while others have reminisced about how the years have flown by in a flash.

For Adrian Dunham who owns The Gallery Haircutters on Waterloo Road with his wife Mandy, celebrations to mark a quarter of a century cutting people's hair in Norwich is taking a different turn.

'Call it stupidity or a brave challenge, but I'm going to cycle 1,000 miles around the Balearic Islands in aid of charity to celebrate 25 years in business,' says Adrian.

'I also reach the grand old age of 50 this year so the challenge is doubly as significant or equally as crazy!'

With only a rucksack full of 'essentials' such as a toothbrush and a puncture repair kit, Adrian aims to rely on the hospitality of others for food and board as he cycles 50-60 miles a day around Majorca, Menorca, Formentera and Ibiza.

'I'm currently planning my route with the help of my friend and IT expert Dave 'the Kiwi' so that I cover 1,000 miles' says Adrian. 'At the moment we have a route that takes in 750 miles so there is some way to go.

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'Since I started talking to clients about the challenge I have been overwhelmed with the support I have been given and it's not just through sponsorship. One client's daughter lives in Palma, Majorca so she has said that I can stay with her for part of my journey. Greens Health and Fitness has also said that I can have free personal training sessions at the gym to improve my fitness levels and Pedal Revolution on Bethel Street are lending me a bike for the challenge.'

Adrian's cycling challenge is in aid of Keeping Abreast, a charity that has been close to Adrian's heart for the past three years.

'Keeping Abreast not only raises money for breast cancer charities it also raises awareness of the disease,' says Adrian. 'The Gallery has styled hair for the charity's fashion shows every year in October since the shows began three years ago.

'It's our job to look after our clients hair and some clients have been coming to me for the 25 years The Gallery has been in business, so when I had clients telling me those dreaded words that they had breast cancer and would be losing their hair I have never felt such a need to make sure that they still felt great with the way they look.'

Adrian and his team trained on celebrity hair stylist Trevor Sorbie's My New Hair course. The training workshop teaches you how to deal with clients who are losing their hair with wig styling and cutting sessions through to how to be sympathetic to clients' needs.

'The challenge will give me the opportunity to raise awareness for this worthy charity,' says Adrian. 'It will also give me time to reflect and look back on the past 25 years. When you are busy every day in the salon you don't really get time to do that.'

With a career in hairdressing that spans over 25 years – Adrian trained at John Olivers in Norwich before setting up his own business with Mandy in 1987 – Adrian has a lot to look back on.

'We decided to set up the salon on the outskirts of the city centre mainly because rent and rates are that bit cheaper, but also because we wanted to provide a high-end service to the chimney pots – the real people of Norwich,' says Adrian. 'When we bought the building on Waterloo Road it was derelict and basically we did all the work ourselves while cutting hair at the same time so that we would not lose our client base. Back then we had two members of staff and now we have more than 20. It sometimes surprises me how much we have grown.'

One of the salon's biggest achievements has been bringing the L'Oreal Color Trophy to Norwich. The competition is open to salons all over the UK and saw The Gallery compete with the likes of national chains such as Toni & Guy.

'It was 1999 and having gone through the regional finals we won the overall award at the finals in London,' says Adrian. 'The awards are like the Oscars of hairdressing and so it was a big deal that a little known backstreet salon in Norwich had won the title.'

The Gallery has been a regular regional finalist in the awards since and the accolade propelled stylists from the salon to work all over the world, including London and Paris Fashion Week.

'Although we are a salon based in Norwich we have an international reputation and it is this reputation that has helped us put Norwich on the map,' says Adrian.

'We work closely with other independent businesses in Norwich such as fashion retailers Ginger, Vanilla and Philip Browne who is a very dear friend of mine. By working with people that are just as passionate as we are about fashion and style has helped us get ahead in the hairdressing world – after all, you are only as good as the people you work with. Luckily Norwich has become a very creative city and there is lots of talent here.'

The Gallery is a main supporter of Norwich Fashion Week, styling hair for the Independent Retailers Show which has launched the week for the past couple of years.

'Norwich Fashion Week is a great platform to showcase creativity in Norwich and so it is great to be part of this,' says Adrian.

'One of the amazing things was that three of our hairstyles that we created for the catwalk at the show were replicated in the L'Oreal show which took place after Norwich Fashion Week! It was great to see that we are fashion-forward with our styles!'

Pushing the boundaries in hairdressing and constantly changing to keep up with fashion are the main aims for continuing the salon's success in the future.

So with many achievements under The Gallery's belt is it time for Adrian and Mandy to open up another salon if not a chain of salons to further success?

Adrian says: 'Everyone asks me if I will open up another salon but to us ploughing all our passion into one independent business is all we need.

'We are very hands-on and love how creative we can be.

'When I opened The Gallery all those years ago I said to myself that I would retire at 50. Now I am 50 and I have no intention of throwing in the towel as I there are so many more things I want to do – that is if I don't die on this cycling challenge!'

If you would like to support Adrian in his 1000 mile cycling challenge you can donate online at

Adrian is also looking for companies to sponsor him by having their company logo on his cycling shirt. Interested companies can call Adrian at the salon on 01603 787248.

From 1980s crimping to geometric styles, take a look at some of the hairstyles created by The Gallery over the past 25 years in our online photo gallery. Just click on the photo gallery link at the top right of this page.