Family, friends, patients and former colleagues of a long-serving South Tyneside doctor came together to give him a special send-off.
Dr Paul Vinayak had worked at the Victoria Medical Centre, in Glen Street, Hebburn, for 43 years until his retirement.
The 74-year-old finally hung up his stethoscope this month, to spend more time with his family.
But wife Veena was not ready to let the occasion pass by without a celebration and acknowledgement of Paul’s sterling service.
She organised a gathering to mark his retirement at Hebburn Central, with the event kept as a complete surprise to Paul.
Veena said: “I tried to track down as many people as possible to come and celebrate with us.
I just felt it was very important that we acknowledged his serviceVeena Vinayak
“I contacted as many old acquaintances who have worked within the practice over the years as possible, from receptionists to locums, and I was delighted with how many of them came along.
“A lot of people like Paul and have fond memories of him.
“I just felt it was very important that we acknowledged his service.”
Dr Vinayak joined the practice in November 1973, having come to the North East from India.
He and Veena – who also worked at the medical centre for more than three decades – have three children and two grandchildren, and Veena is looking forward to her husband spending more time at home.
She added: “He still feels very young, but he has been forced to leave and enjoy his retirement by us.
“He loves the patients and loves working, but now is the right time for him to retire.
“We’re both golfers, and we keep telling him he’ll be able to go and play a lot more golf, which is what we’ll probably do.
“He has been so committed to his job for such a long time.
“I remember once he was on call, and had to go to a job where a patient was on the roof of an 80ft-high building in Hebburn.
“He was so scared of heights, but made it up and looked after the patient.
“When he first started, he used to deliver babies as well, and he delivered babies who have since become grandparents themselves while he has still been working.
“So many people know him and he has always been very popular.”