Aaron Biber, survivor of the Tottenham riots, helps youth
Sitting in his barber’s chair, holding a Japanese newspaper with his photo on it, Aaron Biber reflected on the mayhem of the past 12 months.
In the year since rioters wrecked his Tottenham shop, smashing the windows and damaging the inside, as well as stealing his kettle and hairdryer, Mr Biber has become something of a local celebrity.
Soon after the riots he was visited by Spurs player Peter Crouch for a haircut, and, more recently, both Boris Johnson and the Archbishop of Canterbury have stopped by.
“Boris was very nice,” said Mr Biber, a member of Waltham Forest Hebrew Congregation, who opened his shop in 1971. “I didn’t cut his hair but I did give him some advice on treating thin hair.”
The 90-year-old, who celebrated his milestone birthday with his nephew Eddie “over fish and chips”, said the area had still not fully recovered.
“People are afraid to come here now,” he said. “I had one man whose hair I cut for years and I haven’t seen him since.”
But Mr Biber, who was born in Cable Street, said he was not concerned for his own safety. “Don’t you worry about me,” he said. “I know what to do. I was taught in the East End.
“I’ve seen so much trouble in my time. I went through the war and lost people, so what’s this? They are meshuganas.”
An appeal organised by advertising firm BBH last August to “keep Aaron cutting” raised more than £35,000. Much of it was spent refurbishing the shop and installing shutters and bars on the window to stop intruders causing any more damage.
This week Mr Biber handed cheques for £3,387 each to three local youth projects.
“Aaron grew up in youth clubs in the Jewish East End, so we thought it was right to help other kids get that start in life,” said Mareka Carter, who has run the BBH fundraising campaign.
Mr Biber said he planned to stay working in his barbershop “as long as I have my health”.