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Hairdresser with heart brightens lives of the elderly and sick

Barbara Ann Bezuidenhout’s job is more than just work, it’s a calling

Barbara Bezuidenhout makes sure her loyal customers feel pampered and cared for in their final days.
Barbara Bezuidenhout makes sure her loyal customers feel pampered and cared for in their final days.
Image: SUPPLIED

Barbara Ann Bezuidenhout, 69, from Vincent, helps restore the dignity of the sick and dying through her hairdressing skills and caring heart.

Bezuidenhout has been cutting hair from her salon, Gemini, for the past 52 years for a loyal client base who she says are more like family than customers. 

“My clients have been so loyal, the least I can do is make them feel pretty.

“Some of my clients have been with me for 40 or 50 years,” she said.

Above the demands of her business, Bezuidenhout visits the homes of elderly customers or cancer patients, cutting and styling their hair, cheering them up and  helping make them feel a bit better.

“Most of them are on their deathbed. We talk about their struggles in life or about God.

“They ask me why am I dying? It’s quite emotional.”

The passionate hairdresser offers free services to people who can’t afford it.

She also assists them as a carer if needed.

I wash them down, change their nappies and do their hair. I pray with them and we talk

“I wash them down, change their nappies and do their hair.

“I pray with them and we talk.

“One client said to me ‘I don’t want to die, I keep seeing monsters’.

“I said, it’s OK, you can find peace. You have done well in life.”

Bezuidenhout said it was a blessing to be able to help others. 

“One person, no-one could find her. She was hanging onto a curtain, [sitting] on a potty, and her room was such a mess.

“I cleaned it up so that when she passed she would be in a better surrounding.” 

The families of those she helps are grateful for her tireless efforts.

“My special one, Di, had to give me a Christmas present and she couldn’t see me.

“Her sons phoned and said ‘Mom’s calling for you’.

“I spent Christmas day with her and she died in the early hours of the morning.”

I like doing things and not having people notice what I’m doing. It brings me joy and that will keep me going

She said when doing someone’s hair for 45 years, being a part of their lives, the grief was like watching a family member die.

“Di’s son still comes to me to get his hair cut. Every year he brings me a present.

“I tell him not to, but he says ‘if I don’t my mom will come back and haunt me’ and every year he gives me a pack of biscuits.” 

Bezuidenhout said it was her calling to make people feel special, loved, and cared for. 

“I’ll do this until I get dementia and my clients start saying ‘No Barbara, you haven’t cut that side yet’.”

Humbled by the Local Hero nomination, she said she did not do anything for praise. 

“I like doing things and not having people notice what I’m doing. It brings me joy and that will keep me going.”

Nominator Philip Harper said Bezuidenhout had never taken leave and worked tirelessly every day.

Harper said: “Barbara has had clients stay with her from under 18 to over 60.

“Some of the old folk she transported to and from her salon, and she doesn’t charge the less fortunate who cannot afford to pay.”

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