'The loveliest man' - tributes pour in for Banbury hairdresser Bernard Winkler, who has died of Covid-19

Tributes have poured in for one of Banbury's most popular hairdressers, Bernard Winkler, who has died from Covid-19.
Bernard Winkler, much loved hairdresser to countless clients in Banbury, who has diedBernard Winkler, much loved hairdresser to countless clients in Banbury, who has died
Bernard Winkler, much loved hairdresser to countless clients in Banbury, who has died

Words of love, admiration, shock and deep sadness have flooded the Facebook page of his employing salon, Matthew Grant Hairdressing, in Banbury and Bernard's famly have received countless cards and messages of condolence.

Bernard died, aged 65, on Saturday, January 16 at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford after suffering from Covid-19 for three weeks.

Some of the most recent tributes on social media include: 'He has cut my hair and listened to my secrets for 45 years, I will miss him so much'; 'a genuine, caring, sincere gentleman', 'You were the only person I ever felt comfortable cutting my hair'; 'always made me smile and had such a lovely way with clients'; and 'the voice of the salon, chatting effortlessly to all his clients and always with a laugh. He cherished their visits and made their day. We all will remember him fondly forever'.

Bernard Winkler with his daughter SophiaBernard Winkler with his daughter Sophia
Bernard Winkler with his daughter Sophia

Bernard Winkler was born on the August 1, 1955 in Haverford West, Wales where his parents, Egon and Carmela had met the year before. They moved as a family to Oxfordshire and then to Bedford where they remained for 14 years.

When Bernard was seven he became the proud brother of a sister, Marilena who fondly remembers the time they spent as children - Bernard being the big brother who always looked out for her.

"Bernard was a kind, gentle soul who always put me first. He took care of me and make me laugh. I just cannot imagine the future without him with us," she said.

"He moved across the road from my mother about three years ago and after we lost our father in 2018 he took it upon himself to take care of our mother, trying to fill the void that Dad's passing had created. He would call on Mum on his way to work and when he finished, checking she was safe. Whenever I pulled up in the driveway, he would arrive shortly afterwards to catch up on life over a drink. I loved it when we had time to sit and talk."

Bernard Winkler with his eldest son, LucaBernard Winkler with his eldest son, Luca
Bernard Winkler with his eldest son, Luca

At 16 Bernard needed to think about a career and this is when he showed some interest in the hairdressing industry.

In the early 70s, he moved to Banbury to join us his uncles, Andrea and Achille di Cuffa in their well known Church Lane salon, Andrea & Achille of Rome.

Achille said: "Bernard was extremely popular with the ladies and never short of admirers who would queue outside the salon just to get a look at him. He had a striking resemblance to the singer and actor David Essex. He progressed quickly to become a junior stylist, working in the Chipping Norton salon as well as at the Upper Heyford USAF air base where there was a concession,"

In the late 70s the salon moved to White Lion Walk where Bernard became Manager. He eventually became a director and furthered the success of the business. In 2018 Matthew Grant bought the Banbury salon and Bernard continued to work there until his untimely death.

Bernard Winkler with sons Gianno and NicoBernard Winkler with sons Gianno and Nico
Bernard Winkler with sons Gianno and Nico

"He was loved and adored by many of his customers, always putting himself out to do their hair. He will be missed by all," said Marilena. "The letters, cards and messages express just how much he was loved by his clients and we know that Bernard treated many like his extended family."

Bernard's four children Sophia, Luca, Nico and Giano were his pride and joy. Daily updates on what the children were doing were common discussions with clients and family.

"To say he was proud of them is an understatement and he worked hard to provide what he could for all of the family. He was an extremely hardworking, loyal and honest person," said Marilena.

Bernard loved History, Georgraphy and Art. He was a big football afficionado and being half Italian and half German it was always a very loud affair in the house if, on occasion, the two national teams met each other in competition. Bernard always swayed to the side of the Germans, his sister said.

Countless tributes and messages of sympathy have been received by the family of Bernard Winkler who died last monthCountless tributes and messages of sympathy have been received by the family of Bernard Winkler who died last month
Countless tributes and messages of sympathy have been received by the family of Bernard Winkler who died last month

Bernard's middle son, Nico, said: "Dad was very much involved in all our sports and hobbies and very proud of our achievements.

"He gave up much of his free time to watch our games, shows and performances. He loved his art and was very talented, a talent he loved to share with us, whether it was drawing us or helping us with our own art.

"We had many adventures. He loved little trips out especially to his childhood home of Bedford and to the Oxford museums. He loved to take the family to Italy, it was one of his favourite places where we made lovely memories.

"Dad was a funny man, he always made everyone laugh. He was very popular with our friends - our mates were always happy to see him and chat to him and he cut the hair of many of them. It’s very special when even your mates think you’ve got an amazing Dad. He was a hard working man but we will never forget how excited he would be to return home to us kids.

"We just know he loved us all so much and he was so so proud of us, we know because he always made sure we knew," said Nico.

Bernard leaves his mother Carmela, sister Marilena Kearns, wife Christine and his four children. His funeral takes place at St John The Evangelist Church, South Bar, Banbury next Tuesday (February 9) at 10.30am and will be subject to coronavirus limitations.

Bernard Winkler in the salonBernard Winkler in the salon
Bernard Winkler in the salon

However the service may be seen on livestream. Please visit www.banburycatholicchurches.org.uk and access their Livestream webcam.

The route for his cortege will travel from the top of the Broughton Road hill at Crouch Hill Road down past the Cross, past Matthew Grant Hairdressing in High Street and back up to St John's Church.

Floral tributes and donations for the intensive care unit at the JR Hospital should be directed to Humphris & Sons Funeral Services, telephone 01295 265424.

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