Family, friends and customers have said goodbye to a paper boy who served the community for 60 years.
Peter Field worked at Hedgers Newsagents in Sea Road, East Preston, since he was 12, working his way up the ranks to eventually own the business after the previous owner Tom Chamberlain retired.
He ran it for over two decades, becoming known as ‘East Preston’s paper boy for 60 years’. He passed away from an eight-week battle with acute myeloid leukaemia on March 10 aged 72.
Dozens of villagers lined the streets by his old shop to say goodbye to their friend at 11.45am this morning. When his coffin, adorned with a paper boy's bag, drove past, the hearse stopped outside for a moment of remembrance and residents applauded.
He was then driven on to St Mary’s Church in Vicarage Lane, East Preston, where hundreds of people attended his funeral.
Among the wellwishers outside his shop was his cousin, Ray Denyer. The 71-year-old from The Street, East Preston, went to primary school with him in the village and said he was one of a kind. He said: "Peter was Peter, and I think he broke the mold. He was a chap who served the village; nothing was too much trouble for him.
"I don't think he was after any grandeur; he was just doing the job he loved. He will be missed by a lot of people."
Twinkle Shah is a newsagent who runs Seaview Stores in Sea Road, East Preston with her husband Danny, just a few hundred metres from Peter's old shop. She said Peter had been a mentor to them since starting their business 12 years ago, helping them to sort out their deliveries and fill in returns sheets.
When he became ill, he sold the newspaper side of his business to them, entrusting them with his 400 newspaper subscribers and 11 paper boys.
Mr Shah said: "Even when he was in hospital having treatment, he was more worried about whether his customers were getting their papers in time. He was still trying to manage the whole show as he had always done for the last 60 years."
Mrs Shah added: "His legacy and hard work will continue through our shop."
When Peter was not working, the keen golfer could be found hunting a hole in one at the Rookwood Golf Course outside Horsham.
Jeanette Russell, 80, has lived opposite the newsagents for 27 years. She said waking up in winter with the shop lights on at 5am as Peter and the paper boys started their deliveries was a common and comforting sight. She said: "He was a big part of the village family, and he will be sorely missed."
Her neighbour Mary Fiddimore, 75, said he always called her 'duck'. She said: "He was so welcoming to everybody. We're all going to miss him, that's for sure."
Peter Dyer, 89, from Sea Road, said he was a 'very nice chap' and recalled a business transaction of theirs. He said: "I sold him a microwave many years ago, and just a few weeks before he died he told me he still had it."
Mr Field's daughter-in-law paid tribute to the newsagent as an 'integral part of the community'; click here to read it.