A long-standing GP is hanging up his stethoscope as he retires after 28 years.
Dr Paul Richardson said goodbye to colleagues and patients at Old Henry Street Medical Centre in Leigh on Wednesday.
Perhaps the best thing I ever decided to do was become a GP trainerDr Paul Richardson
But he will not be putting up his feet, as he has taken up a voluntary role as church warden at Christ Church Pennington.
He has been a member of the church since settling in Leigh in 1989.
Dr Richardson, 63, said: “I think when you are used to working in the community, it’s quite a natural thing to step into.
“As a Christian too, you feel that you have a certain amount of responsibility to be using the time that you have got not just for yourself.
“Also, it’s a healthy thing to have an interest that involves other people.”
Dr Richardson grew up in the Midlands and London.
After qualifying as a GP, he spent five years working for a relief agency on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
He returned to the UK in 1989 and settled in Leigh when he found a position as a GP.
He stayed in the same post throughout his career.
The practice was based on Bengal Street, before moving to new premises on Henry Street in 2004.
As well as seeing many patients over the years, he has been involved in training people to become GPs.
Dr Richardson said: “Perhaps the best thing I ever decided to do was become a GP trainer. I have done that for about 14 years.
“It means you have younger doctors who want to be GPs coming to working under your mentorship. Those doctors spend either six months or a year with you so you really get to know them and hopefully make a good contribution to their career development and you see them becoming proper GPs.
“Apart from the patient contact, that’s been one of the most interesting things about the job. It keep it fresh because you have new people coming in all the time. It’s good for the practice too.”
Dr Richardson enjoyed a retirement lunch on Wednesday, with plans being made for a larger celebration.
He said: “I have very mixed feelings, just because you enjoy the daily contact with people and hopefully making a contribution to people’s lives.
“It’s quite a big change to leave that.”
Dr Richardson, who lives in Leigh, took up his new role as church warden last month.
He will be involved in many aspects of church life, including services, assisting the vicar and welcoming people.
He said he has seen many changes at the church over the past 28 years and is looking forward to the future.
Dr Richardson said: “We are on our third vicar since we came. We have a new vicar, Alan Saunders, who is great and doing good things locally.”
Despite the time he will spend on his new role at the church, Dr Richardson is confident he will still have plenty of time for his other interests.
He said: “It will involve a certain amount of time but I will also have time to do my photography, bird watching, hill walking and other things I like doing, as well as look after my 90-year-old mother.”
Dr Richardson and his wife Jean also spend quite a bit of time travelling to London, where their three children and six grandchildren live.