A TULLIBODY master barber came back to the Wee County with an international title under his belt after earning first place at a Polish open competition.

Rafal Bryjak, of Rafael Barbers on Muirside Road, is now eyeing up more titles having built his skills up over the years – all while serving loyal customers in the town.

The proud barber originally got into the profession because he wanted to save up for pilot training, but kept going over the years and last year became a Polish state-certified master tradesman in the guild books due to his experience and knowledge.

Having won the Polish open, Rafal is now looking to add to the silverware next month by entering a Welsh open.

He said: "I realised my job means something, that I'm not just a normal barber, so my ambition now is to achieve more and more."

While the language may be a bit of a barrier for the Polish man, customers insist he knows exactly what they need.

A prominent client of Rafal is St Mungo's Parish Church minister Rev Sang Y Cha, who by chance happened to be in the chair when the Advertiser visited.

Sang, who is understood to have lived in three countries and only ever had three barbers in his life, said: "He's more than a barber, he is the real deal."

The reverend explained the barber-client relationship is a rather personal one, praised Rafal for taking his time rather than rushing to get through more cuts in a day and said he is always happy to wait for the talented hairdresser, even if there are already a few in the queue.

The satisfied regular added: "You know what Rafa's biggest problem is? There's only one of him.

"This guy, he is a champ; he is an unbelievably good worker. The best barber in Clackmannanshire."

Always disappointed if he cannot open the shop for some unforeseen reason, the barber had been working in the Stirling area since 2007 and moved shop to Tullibody two years ago, followed by many loyal clients, including Sang, with new ones arriving since.

As a young man, he dreamed of becoming a pilot, but could not afford the course required.

Initially, he chose a profession to earn the funds required, but was soon inspired by an educator, starting his journey in 1997.

He added: "I had a very good teacher who showed me some tricks, since then, I have come to love this profession.

"I learnt more and more and that's now benefitting me, but it's only because I had a good man at the beginning of my journey."