AFTER 19 years behind the counter at one of the town centre’s best known newsagents, Kathy McGuire will be cashing up for the last time and retiring next month.

Havelock News, in Havelock Street, has been Kathy’s world for the best part of a quarter-century, and even allowed her to work across the road from her husband, the founder of Mike McGuire Family Butcher.

She said the shop was crucial to her pulling through the tough period after Mike died 13 years ago, following a battle with cancer. The lease on the shop was up this year, and rather than sign into another ten-year agreement, 64-year-old Kathy felt the time was right to sell the business on.

She said: “I decided about a year ago that I didn’t want to enter into another ten-year lease on it, so I put it up for sale.

“All the staff here have worked with me for 15 to 18 years, so my one condition for sale was that all the staff remain in place under any new owner.

“My age was the first reason I thought about selling. I also have two very young grandchildren, aged three and ten weeks, in Birmingham who I don’t see very often and I would like to devote more time to them.

“Swindon people knew Mike and I very well, and it will be very sad when I go. I want to go to Birmingham more though, and go abroad too.

“I have a new partner, Steve, and we want to spend more time enjoying life.”

Kathy and Steve own a property in Majorca, which they plan to spend more time at with their family in the summer. There are also trips to Australia, Japan and China on the cards.

With such a large period of her life devoted to newspapers, confectionery and refreshments, Kathy accepts it is going to be hard when she finally locks up for the last time.

She said the people she met in her job ensure she will never have any regrets about how she spent her life.

“The best part of the job was the fun and laughter we had,” she said. “This was a very friendly shop and we had a lot of fun customers over the years.

“I will miss that most: the day-to-day meeting people. I will also miss the girls who work with me. We are like a family. They all call me their mother. We will keep in contact, I’m sure.

“Ours was known as the friendliest shop in town. People who came in always got a smile, and we would try to remember their names and any of their family problems.”

The shop will be taken on by Sunny Ramalingam from March 10. Kathy has no qualms about the future of the newsagents. She said Sunny already runs a similar business in Calne, and he has agreed to keep all her staff on.