A snip at £35,000: the Aaron Biber campaign

By Jessica Elgot, August 18, 2011
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Barber Aaron Biber and his favourite reading material

Barber Aaron Biber and his favourite reading material

Last week, all 89-year-old Aaron Biber had in his barber's shop were some treasured 40-year-old razors and combs, piles of newspapers, two vintage barber's chairs and cassette tapes of his favourite wartime songs.

His quiet routine was shattered, first by the violent riots on Tottenham High Street, then by a media frenzy surrounding his battered shop, and then by a barrage of well-wishers, sending cheques and fan mail, who raised £35,000 as part of a campaign to "Keep Aaron Cutting".

The broken window, door and stolen kettle which was the total damage done by the rioters, cost uninsured Mr Biber, around £400. But his plight captured the public's imagination.

Although he once owned a large salon close to Stamford Hill, Mr Biber, a member of Waltham Forest Hebrew Congregation, said he now did next to no trade, claiming he came back to work every day "for the conversation," to keep him busy after his wife Dorothy died a year ago. Last week he made the front page of the JC, appeared in almost all the national newspapers, and did a BBC London interview.

"Even yesterday I threw two journalists out," he said. "Two from Russia, I've had them from Australia, the Czech Republic, one from America. It's a joke. I want a quiet life. I was married for 70 years, I don't want any money, I want my wife back. She was a darling."

This week even Spurs footballer Peter Crouch dropped in for a haircut.

Mr Biber said: "I've been overwhelmed, I can't believe it. But I don't want just to give it away, I want to keep it for people who are really in trouble."

The appeal closed at the weekend. Organisers said they would be working with the local council, Mr Biber and his nephew Eddie Biber, to distribute funds to help other businesses and residents around the barber's shop.

Last updated: 12:50pm, August 18 2011