AN inspirational barber has been recognised for his big-hearted efforts after scooping a prestigious national award.

Ken Hermes, from Halstead, has been named a community hero at the Modern Barber awards on Sunday.

Modern Barber is the industry’s largest magazine, with Ken travelling to Brighton to collect the award, which also coincided with Barber Fest.

Each category had six finalists with Ken beating the other five nominees to be the magazine’s new community hero.

The award comes because of Ken’s proactive work to tackle mental health awareness.

Ken is a big advocate for more awareness and has worked and trained with many movements including CALM – the Campaign Against Living Miserably – Rethink Mental Health and the Lions Barber Collective.

The barber also launched The Hermes Project

His passion comes after his dad, Kenneth, took his own life in 2006.

Ken was then supported Dales Salon in Halstead to become a barber, where he now returns the favour on Thursdays.

He also works in Ipswich for the Shadow Gallery barber shop.

Now the 31-year-old offers support to his clients and encourages them to speak about mental health while he cuts their hair.

The barber has also launched The Hermes Project which aims to provide support for those bereaved by parental suicide, and to encourage men to talk about their mental health by visiting places of work or education.

Ken says he has also visited universities to support students with their mental health during exam periods.

After winning the award, Ken admitted he wasn’t sure he’d win.

He said: It’s incredibly fulfilling to combine my two passions.

“Encompassing mental health within the barber shop takes it away from a masculine macho environment and allows people to truly open up.

“I don’t push it. Some people don’t wish to talk, but for those that choose to, I don’t take it lightly.

“I’m honoured when people open up and always endeavour to give the most compassionate and best advice.

“I’ve worked with City University of London and Middlesex University.

“Both have been amazing, and I’ve visited both twice to help encourage people to talk.

“One student said it prevented him from taking his life and has since gone on to start his own project.

“For me, the award is validation that I should continue striving.”