Reverend works as barber in Middlesbrough

Reverend Ben Norton has found a novel way of meeting people who live close to his church in Middlesbrough - by volunteering as a hairdresser.

The reverend used to cut hair professionally before he joined the church. He moved from Bridlington to Teesside four months ago and said he returned to his roots to meet new people and to get to know the area better.

He said: "Some people are pretty gobsmacked. It's not normally the kind of place where you find the clergy. But usually the reaction is very warm and positive.

"The conversations have been great. Sometimes people get quite a shock when they realise there's a priest cutting their hair! But it's been a really good way to get to know folk and to get to know the local area as well."

For the last eight weeks Reverend Norton has worked every Monday at Jargon Hairdressers in Coulby Newham. He approached the salon's owner Helen Smurthwaite about helping out, by washing hair and sweeping up.

As soon as she realised his skills, he was promoted to a barber. Some customers now even callahead to book an appointment with him."He's really, really good," Helen said. "I'd love to keep him on full-time but I can't."