IT WAS a fond farewell to a shop worker who has dedicated nearly his whole career to McColls.
Barry Waters retired from the newsagents in Stubbington after spending nearly 40 years with the company and 27 years in the village’s branch.
I have had some really lovely times here and I have met a lot of nice people.Barry Waters
Customers and staff packed out the shop yesterday to wish him good luck and see him off as he finished his final shift.
As well as lots of cards, Barry was also showered with gifts, including alcohol and money, which were handed to him yesterday. Customers had given hundreds of pounds as a thank you.
Barry said: ‘I have had some really lovely times here and I have met a lot of nice people.
‘I had great staff working for me and it has been a delight working here.
‘It was wonderful to get a lot of cards, it was unexpected to get so many.’
He added: ‘Trying to keep everyone happy was the main thing for me and I think I have achieved that over the years.
‘I just want to thank everyone who came to wish me luck and brought cards.
‘I also want to thank my wife for being by my side all these years.’
Before he left the shop, customers said goodbye and thanked Barry for his service.
Robert Gill, of Burnt House Lane, in Stubbington, has been using the McColls store for the past 12 years.
He said: ‘Stubbington will be a sadder place without Barry.
‘I have known him since I started using this store which is about 12 years, maybe longer.
‘He was always available for a chat and always had time for a joke.
‘He will be sadly missed in Stubbington village.’
Barry’s wife Wendy, who he met when they both worked at the McColls store in Waterlooville, is also leaving the shop.
When she joined McColls, he was her manager and they fell in love and went on to have three daughters, Aimee, Sam and Kate, and two granddaughters – Evie and Niamh.
All three of their children worked at the Stubbington store and Aimee helped organise the surprise goodbye for her dad.
Wendy said: ‘It was lovely for so many people to come and say goodbye to Barry.
‘He is a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and he was always so dedicated to his job.’
Now he’s retired, Barry is looking forward to having free time to spend with his family.
He said: ‘I am looking forward to playing more golf and seeing the family more.
‘Two of my daughters live in Liverpool so it will be nice to spend more time seeing them. It will be nice to have my weekends back too.
‘My family also bought me a metal detector for Christmas so I am looking forward to taking that out too.’