Andrew Gold meets Neil Cornelius who swapped the A-list lifestyle for the Met


ost police officers experience a hair-raising episode in their career.

But one recent recruit, PC Neil Cornelius from the Met, doesn’t need to comb too far through his memory to come up with thousands of them. Until recently, Neil was

a hairdresser to the stars with a top-rated salon in Bond Street, London, with a stack of celebrity clients and a star-studded party lifestyle.

During his 20-year plus

career as a leading stylist, he mixed in the heady company of Princess Diana, Kate Moss, Bradley Cooper, Nelson Mandela, Lady Gaga and Tom Cruise. When he wasn’t dining with Julie Andrews, he’d be living it up at an Elton John party or cutting the hair of Rupert Murdoch’s family

or the younger Royals. But after a decade with his

own business, Neil decided to give up featuring in Vogue and other glossy fashion magazines for a new career in the Met. At the age of 44, he followed a long-held dream which had been in the back of his mind for decades. The move was not cut and

dried. He had to undergo a recruitment process which pitted him against other candidates half his age. “Everybody was 15 to 20 years younger but I was confident my fitness was good enough as I take part in marathons and triathlons. I also had good life experience and hoped that would be looked at favourably,” he said. “I’d always wanted to be

a police officer from a very early age. Although I had a leading business, I was from a

disadvantaged family. I recalled incidents when I was young when people close to me were in trouble with the police. It stuck with me how the police treated them with respect.” After completing his Hendon

training, he was stationed at Colindale in North West London, where he experienced the care and compassion of colleagues and revelled in joining the policing family. He said: “I was slightly apprehensive because I was older and had a previous life but the reception I had from fellow officers was amazing. I was impressed not only with their professionalism and skills but with their willingness to help me.” Although Neil now proudly

wears a uniform, he wasn’t quite able to shake off the past career when he provided a 24-hour

hairdressing service for stars like George Clooney. During lockdown he picked up his scissors once more and clipped the hair of recruits during the period when hair salons were closed.

He said: “In the spirit of the

Met, I raised money for two local charities – the Shooting Star Children’s Hospice and the Jason Roberts Foundation – by cutting the hair of recruits in return for a donation. Word spread, so I set up a JustGiving page and once the Government gave the green light, I started cutting everyone’s hair for charity while wearing PPE. “And, although I used to

charge a three-figure amount per celebrity client, I was much prouder raising more than £1,800 from my colleagues for these great causes.”


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