Barber and dog walker William dies

RETIRED BARBER: Mr William 'Billy' O'Connell
RETIRED BARBER: Mr William 'Billy' O'Connell

A grandad-of-six and retired barber who cut the hair of three generations of Burnley families has died at the age of 74.

Mr William O’Connell, who was known as Billy, died at his home in Brow View on Wednesday, July 16th, following an illness. Mr O’Connell followed in his father’s footsteps and after leaving school went straight into the family business, a barber’s shop in Trafalgar Street.

He later set up his own business, O’Connell’s, in Accrington Road where he worked for almost 40 years until he retired in 1999.

A keen and talented snooker player, Mr O’Connell used to play for the former Irish League Club and on holidays got the chance to show off his skills against snooker greats such as John Virgo, Ray Reardon, Doug Mountjoy and Graham Miles.

Born in the Cog Lane area of Burnley Mr O’Connell and his wife of 53 years Pauline spent most of their married life living in the Fulledge area of town. Shortly after he retired from O’Connell’s the couple moved to Cleveleys and split their time between a caravan there and winters in Benidorm, Spain, where they made many friends before returning to Burnley around a year ago.

Throughout his retirement Mr O’Connell was a regular gym goer and enjoyed walking his son Glenn’s dogs which he would do three times a day.

Pauline (74) said: “He must have been well liked because he was always busy in his shop.”

Glenn said: “He was probably just as well known for walking my dogs. I used to have a big Alsatian and to save me taking it to work I used to drop it off at dad’s shop.

“Now I’ve got a border collie and I used to take that to work with me but when dad moved back he commandeered my dog. He used to take it for a walk three times a day.”

Mr O’Connell also passed on his talent for cutting hair to his grandson Zach who is a hairdresser.

He leaves his wife Pauline, sons Glenn (49), Craig (52) and Lee (42) and six grandchildren.

Glenn added: “We probably didn’t always show it but his sons loved him dearly. “We were all fortunate enough to spend some quality time with him. We all loved our dad.”

Mr O’Connell’s funeral took place on Wednesday at Burnley Crematorium.