A postman whose “unfailing cheerful spirit lightened dark winter days” received a surprise send-off on the last working day of his 34-year career.
Gordon Corby was 32 when he started working for the Royal Mail in Uppingham in 1979, after 16 years working as a butcher.
For the first year he had to cycle some six miles a day, until he moved to Oakham where he was given a red van.
Over the years one of his vans ended up in a ditch, another got smashed and he was twice bitten by dogs as he made his postal deliveries. None of which deterred him.
He said: “ I loved the job. I met many nice people and made many friends along the way.”
For more than three decades, come rain or shine, he was at the doorstep of houses in seven villages, including Egleton, to deliver letters and parcels. When he arrived at 7.30am for his final round in Egleton, dozens of residents gathered on the green to say goodbye and shower him with presents.
“It was very emotional,” admitted Mr Corby, who lives in Oakham.
Robert Gower , chairman of Egleton Parish Meeting, said Mr Corby was an exceptional person.
“He was totally professional and was willing to help anyone,” he said.
“With his unfailingly cheerful spirit he not only provided the village with an exceptional quality of postal service, but lightened dark winter days with his daily personal greeting. We wish him a long and happy retirement”.
Even earlier in the day at 6.30am, a similar scene had greeted him at the Royal Mail Oakham delivery office, in Market Square, from where Mr Corby had set off on his rounds each day.
Fellow postie Wendy Walke said: “Gordon was a very popular colleague who always had a smile on his face and a kind word about everyone.
“He was a true gentleman who was very highly regarded by his customers.
“His colleagues are very sad to see him leave and he will be sorely missed by all.
Villagers and Mr Corby’s colleagues combined forces to buy him farewell gifts, including an engraved pocket watch, a special coin, a personalised picture and a hamper.
Mr Corby, 66, who has been married to Ellen for 41 years, is now tiling the bathroom at his daughter Amanda’s home in Oakham. Once that is done he plans to “take it easy”, but not for too long.
He said: “I will definitely miss going out on my rounds, so once I’ve had a little time off I may do something part time. I like working.”