Villagers have bade farewell to a couple who have been a big part of their lives for more than 20 years as owners of their convenience store.
Alf and Pat Clark closed up for the last time at Stathern Stores on Saturday evening.
Alf (69) has suffered ill health in recent months so the couple, who celebrated their golden wedding anniversary earlier this year, decided to call it a day.
They are looking forward to not having to get up at 4.30am Monday to Sunday and working 105 hours every week.
But 71-year-old Pat said their retirement was tinged with sadness: “I am sad because we’ve met so many nice people and made so many friends over the last 21-and-a-half years.
“But we’ve both had ill health, my husband more so, and we decided it was time to finish.”
The couple, who live in Bottesford, have been inundated with leaving cards since they broke the news to their many regular customers.
Over the years they have extended their range of stock at the Main Street shop, which in the past 200 years has been a slaughter house, a poultry shed and a post office at various times.
She added: “We sell so many more things than when we started in the 1990s.
“We are selling up but we are hoping someone will take it on and continue to run it as a store like we have.”
While the Clarks enjoy their new lives of leisure and spending more time with son Martin, daughter Helen and their three grandchildren, they will be missed behind the counter.
Villager Gillian Deave said: “Pat and Alf’s retirement due to ill health has come as a great shock and is a very sad event for so many in the village and beyond.
“They have been an integral part of village life, always greeting their customers with a smile, sympathising with their troubles, rejoicing in good news and giving wise advice to all ages.
“With deep gratitude we wish them a peaceful and happy retirement.”
Another regular customer, Graham Tranfield, said: “They came in and have transformed that shop.
“They have stayed open seven days a week which has been great for the village.
“We will miss Pat and Alf tremendously.”
Staff at Stathern Garage will sell newspapers while the store is closed. The garage, also in Main Street, will be open from 7am on weekdays for villagers to collect their papers.