TRIBUTES have been paid to Basingstoke salon owner Zena Tanner, who has died at the age of 48.

Mrs Tanner, who ran Top Notch Hairdressers on Oakridge Road, died peacefully in her sleep last week surrounded by her family.

The Basingstoke businesswoman had previously battled cancer but was diagnosed with a form of metastatic breast cancer in 2015. 

Mrs Tanner, who owned the salon for 16 years along with her husband of 27 years Chris, died on Friday February 5.

"She had a big heart," Chris said.

"She fought for 14 years against the cancer and she really did make a huge difference to this community.

"She had a zest for life and will certainly be sorely missed."

Both Zena and Chris had lived in Basingstoke their whole lives and were born in Basingstoke Shrubbery Hospital.

She attended St John's Primary School and Cranbourne before enrolling on an apprenticeship scheme to become a hairdresser.

"One of her dreams was to have her own salon," her mum Joy Herbert said.

"She would practice on her father's hair and just snip away at it when she was 13 years old.

"Her staff and customers were always her first priority and Zena was a very positive person - always looking to help others before herself." 

Mrs Tanner and Top Notch supported Basingstoke College of Technology (BCOT) in their apprenticeship schemes over the years, taking on budding hairdressers each year.

"Zena was always keen for her apprentices to succeed," Sarah Folan, training consultant of apprenticeships at BCOT said.

"Top Notch took so many across the years and even in her last months Zena ensured she helped the apprentice she had taken on by coming in and helping her with her exams that were due to take place."

Nicola Coombs, principal stylist at the salon, said: "Zena wasn't a boss - she was a mum.

"She took me on as a junior stylist 14 years ago and I have worked for her ever since.

"Zena was just a lovely person and would do anything for anyone."

Top Notch manager Claire Martyn said: "I have been friends with Zena for 10 years and worked for her for six.

"Zena was just a sincere person - whatever she said you knew that she meant."

Mrs Tanner took part in the annual Race for Life, and although unable to participate she joined her team in crossing the finish line last year, just a month after being diagnosed.

Now her two children, Sophie, 25 and Jake, 22, are continuing her legacy with a skydive to raise money for St Michael's Hospice, Basingstoke.

"It was mum who suggested it," Sophie said.

"I think she meant it as a joke but me and Jake decided to book it which we did just before she passed away. 

"I'm not scared of heights, although I am sure I will be nervous on the day, I am pleased we are doing it for such a worthy cause and I hope that we can raise a lot of money in mum's memory."

So far sponsorship for the event, which will be held on what would have been Mrs Tanner's 49th birthday, has reached nearly £2,000 in just a few days.

"Mum was selfless, would help anyone and was just an amazing mum and my best friend,” Sophie added.

"Even after she was diagnosed she continued to visit the salon because she missed working and her clients so much when she wasn't there.

"She was an inspiration and so brave - such a fighter.”

A public service will take place at St Michael's Church, Basingstoke at 1.30pm on Thursday February 25 which will be followed by a celebration of Mrs Tanner's life at Weybrook Park Golf Club from 3.45pm until 11pm.

Family flowers only and people attending the funeral are being encouraged to wear colourful clothes. 

To sponsor Sophie and Jake you can visit