OXFORDSHIRE’S oldest newspaper delivery agent is continuing to spread some cheer, despite these unheralded times.

84-year-old Alan Gillard has delivered the Oxford Mail for 24 years.

He originally took over from his son, who got a job working in computing.

“My son started doing a paper round when he was at college but when he got a part time job, I would help out when he couldn’t do it,” Mr Gillard said.

“Then when he got a permanent job, I took over the round and have been doing it since.”

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Mr Gillard is out delivering the paper six days a week, his round spread across the eastern side of Thame - the market town he was ‘born and bred’ in.

He covers four and a half miles altogether, delivering 21 papers.

“I do a bit of it by car at the bypass and then the rest of it I do on my bicycle,” he said.

“Usually, there’s so much traffic around in the morning so I do that bit by car.

“Then I’m on the bicycle for up to three quarters of an hour.

“I’ve got permission from the doctors to be out and I’m on my bike so I’m not a risk.”

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At one stage, Mr Gillard used to have 100 papers to deliver in Thame and said that he has noticed a change as the coronavirus pandemic spreads.

“You don’t really see anybody about at the moment, there’s far less people and traffic,” he said.

“When I can, I love chatting to people, it’s amazing how 10 and 15 minutes here and there can add up.

“I love doing the round and I’m out in all weathers.

“I occasionally speak to people at their gate now but most people are self-isolating.

“We do have our ways of communicating though, sometimes people will leave notes on their letterbox or I’ll give them a wave at the window.”

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Mr Gillard spent his working career at BT, starting as a 17-year-old, before retiring aged 60.

He said: “I worked for BT as a line manager for transmission equipment.

“I looked after all the stuff for the eastern telecoms region.”

Mr Gillard lives in Thame, with his wife of 62 years.

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The World Health Organisation has confirmed newspapers remain safe to read during the coronavirus pandemic.

It stated the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low, and therefore the risk of contracting Covid-19 through receipt of a printed paper is indeed infinitely small.

In addition, the Government has identified news media organisations and those that work across it as a key public service.

For many isolated individuals, a delivered newspaper is the only way to keep connected to the local community that they live in through this period of isolation.

Do you know someone who would like to get free home delivery of the Oxford Mail every day? If so, call free on 01865 425282.