Peter Smith has been bid farewell after being Sutton Benger’s postmaster for nearly 30 years.

About 100 people gathered in the village hall for a retirement party for Mr Smith, well-known for his skydiving exploits.

Residents had clubbed together to buy him a ride in a hot air balloon, with £400 spending money.

The 61-year-old has jumped out of a plane eight times and raised about £8,000 for charity.

He said: “I think they think I should be doing something more sedate now I’ve retired.

“It will be very tranquil and I’ll be able to take in the scenery, rather than hurtling past it at 120mph.

“But it is on my bucket list to do a wing walk before I hit 65. I’m doing all the things that, if my mother was alive, she wouldn’t let me do.”

He said it was humbling to have so many people turn up and it had been a privilege to serve the community over the years.

He said: “One of the lads I watched grow up, Matt Davies, was there with his own children. I’ve watched lots of kids grow up. It’s nice to see them go on and make good lives for themselves.”

The party was organised by the village hall committee, for whom Mr Smith has often acted as the box office for events held in the venue by various groups.

Regular customer Glad Beal made him a stamp-shaped cake.

Mr Smith’s family has been in the post office trade for 50 years. His father was a sub-postmaster in Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

He plans to sell his High Street house and is undecided whether he will stay in the village, but now wants to get a job in a supermarket.

He said: “I’ll miss meeting people every day, so I’ll probably work on a checkout.”

He retires on Saturday, closing for the last time at 12.30pm. The post office will move along High Street to the Bell House Hotel.