A LONG-serving milkman is enjoying a well-deserved lie-in after serving the people of a north Hampshire village for nearly four decades.

For 37 years, Colin Long got up at 3am to deliver milk and other produce to people living in the eastern half of Oakley.

He proved so popular with villagers that over the years his customers invited Colin and his wife Margaret to family events like wedding anniversaries and birthdays.

His last round took place on Good Friday this year, and villagers got up early to give the 68-year-old a card and present, and decorated his float with balloons.

He told The Gazette: “The last two weeks working were very emotional. Although I got on well with people, I did not realise until then how they felt. Oakley is quite a lovely community and very caring.”

The gifts that Colin received from his customers included a clock, a thermometer and afternoon tea vouchers at Oakley Hall and Tylney Hall.

After his retirement, Colin, of Dominica Close, Popley, Basingstoke, wrote a letter to the Link, the Oakley parish magazine, thanking his customers.

He said: “Over the last 37 years, I have called on you, I have seen your children come into this world, and then your grandchildren, and have considered you all an extension of my family.

“No amount of money in the world could buy the friendships that I have made with you all and they will stay with me forever.”

The great-grandfather of four said he will spend his retirement gardening and travelling with his wife.