JIM WELLING, a popular local business owner and theatre performer, has died in hospital at the age of 70.

Jim was the proprietor of Edward James hair salon at the Top of Town for 45 years.

He was also involved with Basingstoke Amateur Theatrical Society for more than 50, graduating from young dancer to leading man in many musicals at the Haymarket Theatre, including Fagin in ‘Oliver’ and Professor Higgins in ‘My Fair Lady’, as well as several pantomime dames!

He was the current president of BATS. Behind the scenes Jim served on the committee for many years and helped set up the original iteration of BATS’ junior company, Next Gen. He was a mentor to many young performers.

Jim was also a fantastic wig designer whose creations graced the stage both locally and around the UK.

Jim was born Edward James Welling. He was the youngest of four children, born to Vera and Jack Welling, a former Mayor of Basingstoke.

He grew up in Hannington and attended Hilsea College. Jim became an apprentice hairdresser at the age of 17 and set up his own business in Winchester Street in 1975. He gave generations of young stylists their first opportunity in the industry.

Jim loved to travel and made friends all over the world, especially in California, while back home he was always the life and soul of any party and a hugely generous and supportive friend to many.

Following an accident, Jim endured frequent periods of ill health. He was admitted to hospital just before Christmas after a fall and contracted Covid. He died just three days after his oldest brother Robert.

He will be hugely missed by his family, former clients and wide circle of friends.