A longstanding pillar of the community is handing over his newsagents after 37 years in the business.

Gulab Gandhi, who has been a familiar face at Canons Park Newsagents in Whitchurch Lane since 1980, is entering a well-earned retirement this month.

Despite his affection for the shop, and all the customers he’s served, he now sees it as time to move on so he can rest and relax – a luxury few who know him would begrudge him.

He said: “It’s now time to take it easy and enjoy my retirement. I’ve enjoyed my time in Canons Park, it’s been very nice.”

The 83-year-old explained how the area has changed over the years, developing from what was “essentially a village” into a thriving community with several schools and stores.

But he still believes there is a place for smaller shops like his, provided they offer a good service and maintain a solid group of customers.

In spite of the development, including the introduction of a supermarket, Mr Gandhi’s shop has been able to thrive for more than a generation.

He added: “We’ve been very lucky in the sense that we’ve had lots of loyal customers who keep coming back to us – everyone from children to elderly people.

“We’ve tried to provide a good service and this is a nice area where lots of nice people live.”

Mr Gandhi explained how many people were “surprised” by his decision to step down but that they were pleased for him, viewing it as “the right decision”.

“People in the area have got to know me and it was lovely to hear them be complimentary about our service. They’ve told me to enjoy my retirement,” he said.

Responsibility of the shop should be transferred on January 15 and Mr Gandhi noted how his successors were handpicked due to their previous experience.

“They have worked as newsagents before and have been in the business for some time now,” he explained.

“They also offer home delivery services which will be very useful for those who can’t get to the shops for whatever reason.”