WHEN Alan Greer left school in 1955 and became a trainee motor mechanic, he began the job of a lifetime.

Aged 15, he wanted to be a plumber but jobs were scarce. Instead, he joined the workshop crew at Leominster's Oldfields Garage and cut his teeth repairing Austin 7s, Standard 8s, lorries and tractors.

He stayed for 50 years and became a valued "Mr Fixit".

Champagne flowed and customers called in to wish him well when Alan retired on August 5 after notching up his half-century of service.

A photomontage of his working life went on display at the Green Lane garage - the last garage in Leominster with a forecourt attendant service.

Owners Cheryl and Paul Benson, who took over the business 14 years ago, said the veteran's departure would leave a big gap.

"He has been very loyal and is respected by the customers - you can't replace someone like Alan," said Cheryl.

Alan, who lives nearby at The Meadows, Leominster, said he would miss his workmates and customers.

He has taken pride in the fact that he has never been "just a number on a sheet".

"I had a lot of contact with my customers from the word go, discussing problems with them. It's been a big part of the job," he said.

The small business founded by the late James Moon has thrived because it has always offered good personal service, he added.

Alan owns an immaculate B-registration Ford Escort Ghia 1.6 - only his fourth car. But he is not a driving enthusiast - so much of his life has been spent with cars and their problems!

Retirement will allow him more time for his gardening hobby and for his family.

He and his wife, Marlene, who celebrate 40 years of marriage in January, have two daughters and two grandchildren.