by Helen Martin
William Robert Boyd has lived in Helensville for just two years but he’s already well-known, firstly as one half of the couple who bought the iconic former BNZ bank and gave it a much-needed facelift, secondly as an accomplished painter happily embedded in the busy local art scene.
While he was born in Stirling, Scotland, William spent an idyllic childhood in Missouri and California. Returning to England when he was 14, on leaving school he went back to Stirling to take up a hairdressing apprenticeship, an occupation he has now enjoyed for 53 years. Having migrated to New Zealand with his wife and their two young sons in search of a less pressured lifestyle in 1971, William began working in the Kohimarama Beach salon he half-owned with a Kiwi he’d met in London. Although he no longer owns that business, he still works at a Kohimarama salon 3 days a week.
William has won many hairdressing awards, the first very early on in London. Winning a New Zealand title was followed by selection in 1978 for the first NZ team to go to the World Hairdressing Championships. “The event was held in Düsseldorf, Germany, where we were the hairdressing All Blacks in our black blazers. We didn’t win, but it was a blast. Then when we got back we had to do a tour through the country,” says William. “It was a fantastic experience.” He later went on to judge many hairdressing competitions, to sit on national hairdressing committees and to act as a Trade Cert examiner.
Alongside his hairdressing awards William and Paul, his partner of 29 years, have won many titles showing their Standard Schnauzers. They’re very proud to have had the only Australasian Grand Champion Standard Schnauzer, who won four Best in Show awards and Top Show Dog of the Year All Breeds in 1999 at the Pal Blue Ribbon. “He was magnificent,” says William. “Over the years we’ve had about 14 Standard Schnauzers, sometimes four at a time. They’re just wonderful dogs.” Now they have Greta and Turner, a handsome pair who enjoy their daily walks around Helensville.
Music has been a big part of William’s life – he played clarinet for years in marching bands, orchestras and dance bands - and he still loves hairdressing, but his grand passion now is as a painter, a creative outlet that rescued him from the doldrums after a breakdown in his late 50s. “I went out and bought some cheap acrylic paint and some small canvasses and sat out in the garden and painted. It was great therapy, and I was able to con a café in Remuera to hang my paintings.” They sold well, giving the lie to the art teacher who told William when he was 15 that he didn’t have an artistic bone in his body. Encouraged by his art group Bartisans to enter the Easter Show painting competition in 2006he was thrilled to win a Merit Award, and even more thrilled the following year to win the Best New Artist Award and the K. G. Fraser Award for Best Painting in Show.
Helensville has been great for William and Paul, who had often driven out here when they lived in the city, and after putting in many dollars and many hours of hard work, they’re really pleased with their renovated bank home with its distinctive red door, its great view of the river and its all day sun. Their positive feedback includes a place in the finals of the 2016 Resene Colour Art Award. Paul enjoys working as an Art Centre volunteer while William, when he’s not hairdressing, is working towards an exhibition with Helensville as his theme and preparing his studio for its first opening to the public during the upcoming Arts in the Ville.
Paul and William are really enthusiastic about living in Helensville? “The people are outgoing and open here - this is honestly the friendliest place we’ve ever been. Life is more relaxed than in the city and there are no traffic hassles. It feels like we’re in the country. It feels safe.”