A popular milkman who has been making his rounds for 40 years is retiring.
John Hughes will pull into the Milk and More depot in Long Lane, Hillingdon, after a round of early morning deliveries for the very last time this Saturday (March 1).
Mr Hughes did his first shift on February 11 1974, when the depot was owned by Job's, and it has since been taken over by Unigate, and now Dairy Crest.
The 65-year-old, who lives in West End Road, Southall, used to take two of his daughters to help with the drops, and he told the Gazette that while he will miss his customers, he will be glad to turn off the 2am alarm, set six days a week, and avoid the miserable winter weather.
He added: "I don't mind the cold, and I have done my deliveries in snow up to my knees before, but it is bad in the rain. It was worse when I was in a float, but now I have a transit and you can stay warm and dry.
"I like working on my own, and having no boss around. I have met some lovely people who I think of as friends rather than customers. We'll have a chat and a cup of tea, and if they need a a light bulb changed or a hand with something in the house, I help them out. I have received so many cards and presents. Some people have even stopped their deliveries because I am leaving."
While the demand for a milkman's services have waned in recent decades, Mr Hughes says that the white stuff in the traditional bottles with foil lids have kept a core customer base.
"When I first started, milk wasn't sold in shops, and I had a lot more people to deliver to. It's all changed, of course, but some people still want the old bottles. I've certainly seen a few things over the years - I once discovered a man who had hung himself - and I have overheard plenty of things I shouldn't have heard. I will miss it."
Far from being a "dying breed", there are around 5,000 milkmen in the UK, delivering to some two and a half million homes. Milk and More milkmen accounts for more than half of those.