POSTMEN spend their working lives driving around in red vehicles.

But one retiring postman ditched his traditional van for a sporty red Ferrari on his final Saturday delivery round.

Mike Young, 65, has worked for Royal Mail for 18 years and for all but two of those has made deliveries to villages around Watlington.

Residents gathered to wish him farewell as he was driven around in Britwell Salome resident Chris Bidgood’s sports car.

Villagers in Brightwell Baldwin and Upperton raised £440 to pay for a photographic portrait sitting for Mr Young and his family, while a collection in Britwell Salome raised £280.

Mr Young, who lives in Saunders Close, Watlington, with his wife Diana, joined Royal Mail after being made redundant as manager of the old Somerfield supermarket in Sonning Common.

He said: “I have enjoyed working outside. You’re virtually your own boss, as no-one is chasing you and there are no people to worry about, apart from the customers on your round.

“The biggest part of giving up work is there’s a lot of people that I meet every day who I probably won’t see that often. It will take a while to get used to it. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting people. We have a little chat about their families and mine and it’s wonderful.

“People have been very kind and generous over the years. They made me feel that I wasn’t just a postman.

“Lots of people are pleased to see you, even though you take them bills.”

He said he particularly enjoyed delivering congratulation cards to new parents and he always tried to complete his rounds in bad weather.

Leigh Greenham, who has lived in Brightwell Baldwin for 20 years, said: “Mike has been so reliable, trustworthy and helpful.

“It’s an in-joke that if you want to know what’s going on in the village, ask Mike. He keeps us up on all the gossip.

“He deserved his service to be recognised, because he’s such a nice chap.”

Mr Young, who has two children and two grandchildren, said he might buy a laptop computer or garden furniture with his gift.

He made his final delivery round on Tuesday.