A postman who retired after 34 years delivering the mail has been overwhelmed with good wishes from customers on his former round.

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Residents from Great Hockham not only threw Mick Clears a surprise party but presented him and his wife, Angela, with a number of special gifts and money for a holiday.

Mr Clears, 64, from East Harling, who delivered post to 329 houses during his 19-year round in Great Hockham, Wretham, and previously Illington, before he retired on July 13, was known for his kindness and thoughtfulness.

This was reciprocated with gifts from villagers including a love-seat, a watercolour specially commissioned from Hockham resident Margaret Linge featuring Mr Clears and his van delivering post on the village green, and a Hockham Hare sculpted by local potter Rosemary Delfinio.

“I knew all my customers by their first name and everybody spoke to me but I was totally overwhelmed by all the cards and gifts I received,” Mr Clears said.

“Although I had my suspicions that something was going on I was totally gob-smacked when I walked into the party and I saw everybody from the village.”

Mr Clears began as a postman in Thetford in 1978, and, as part of the recruitment process, was asked to take an aptitude test which included whether or not he was able to ride a bicycle. Back then, as well as dealing with telegrams, postmen were expected to begin work at 4am, work 43 hours a week and cover three shifts per day. But he saw many changes in his time with Royal Mail, including mechanisation.

“I miss the connections with the customers the most, rather than Royal Mail itself,” Mr Clears said. “I’m an old sort of postman though and there were too many changes. We had more time to talk to people then but it’s all about money now.”

Tracey Mathison, 39, of Scotgate Close, Great Hockham, was a regular “tea-stop” on Mr Clears’ route.

“He would just do so much for everybody,” she said. “If there was a parcel and somebody was out he would know if they were working and he would take it to them. He’s part of the community.”

Mr Clears now intends to continue with his hobbies including running and, with his wife, competing in agility shows with his dog, Ben.

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