FRIEND, counsellor, social worker, Sandra Jones will be sorely missed at the paper shop in Hereford where she has worked for more than three decades.

Times have changed in Eign Street since 66-year-old Sandra started her job at the familiar newsagents' on the corner with Friar Street 36 years ago, and this week Wilson's shop will be closing up for the last time.

Major changes in the city's streetscape have brought about changes in footfall. Business was altogether busier in the old days when Bulmers' cider works was operating just up the road, and before the Victoria Eye Hospital closed and transferred to Hereford County Hospital, explains Sandra. Demand also changed with the arrival of the Tesco and Sainsbury's supermarkets.

"It is the end of an era," says Sandra, who admits she will miss her customers though is planning for her retirement.

"All the Bulmers' drivers used to come for baguettes and papers, and people going to the eye hospital would come in, and of course there was the busy Post Office here as well with postmen popping in for deliveries," she says.

Over the years, the shop has even played the part of a "sort of tourist information centre", many coming in to ask for directions.

"It's been fun," says Sandra. At times she has also provided a shoulder to cry on. "I've been a sort of social worker," she says, always willing to lend an ear to those who have needed to share the highs and lows of their daily lives. Her genuine warmth and air of caring have made the shop a popular port of call for many.

Says one woman:"It's always good to pop in here every day for a paper and have a chat with Sandra. We shall really miss her."

Those with longer memories will recall when the shop, under former ownership, caused blushes with its daring nude photographs in the window - one local man said his maiden aunt refused to let her brother go into the shop.

Born and bred in Hereford, Sandra is now looking forward to spending more time with her grandchildren, five-year-old Delilah and Bonnie, aged two, and with her son, Dan and daughter-in-law.

"I shall do a lot of sewing and gardening, and might consider a job with GCHQ," she jokes. "I have been to university, the University of Life!"