Long-serving newsreader Wesley Smith will tonight say an emotional farewell to ITV viewers across Oxfordshire.

Mr Smith has been the face of local ITV news for more than 20 years, and will this evening present his last Thames Valley Tonight, broadcast at 6pm.

Mr Smith, 45, who lives near Oxford, started presenting Central News bulletins from Birmingham in 1987, before the Central South studios opened in Abingdon in 1989.

He co-presented the news programme with Ann Dawson for more than 13 years, in one of the longest partnerships in television news.

With the demise of Central South News in 2006, he joined Thames Valley Tonight, and has been presenting the show from a studio in Fareham, near Portsmouth.

Mr Smith said: “Tonight I will be presenting the programme with Hannah Shelswell, and Mary Green will also be appearing.

“At the end of the programme, we will take a few minutes to look back over the highlights of Thames Valley Tonight, and we will say a final farewell to viewers.

“I think it is very important to acknowledge the viewers who have supported us over the years.”

Mr Smith said he wanted to thank viewers who had written to him, or sent him an email, to say how much he would be missed.

“I have received lots of letters and emails and I feel bolstered by that,” he told the Oxford Mail.

“I am really touched by the support of the viewers and that’s when you begin to feel a bit emotional about it, but I am trying to stay as upbeat as I can.”

However he will not miss the 150-mile round trip to the South Coast.

He added: “I like living near Oxford and I am looking forward to spending a bit more time here.

“I will try to do more presenting, but I genuinely want to spend some time doing something different.

“That could be through establishing links in the community, and doing website work, videos and public relations.

“It was very sad when Central South ended in 2006, and no-one expected the same thing to happen to Thames Valley Tonight just a few years down the line.

“The first bulletin I did for Central was at 1am on Halloween in 1987 and I went on from there.”

The final Thames Valley Tonight programme will be presented by Mark Lipscomb on Sunday, and the show is being replaced by Meridian Tonight, presented by Fred Dinenage, of children’s TV favourite How! and Sangeeta Bhabra.

It will cover Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey, the Isle of Wight and part of Sussex.