A SOUTHAMPTON shopkeeper who "will be missed by so many" is retiring today after 38 years of running his shop, day in day out.

Roy Kharbanda has been a well-respected member of the Southampton community for decades, ever since taking over Testwood Stores in Shirley in 1982.

But today will be the 62-year-old's final shift, as he bids farewell and hands the reins to one of his staff members so he can enjoy his retirement.

The father of three loved working in the shop and has found it "very hard" to say goodbye.

He said: "I took over ownership of the shop in 1982 and it was very rundown, it took my three years or so to turn it around and get it going again, and I have loved it ever since.

"I have loved looking after the local people, I've lived in Shirley all my life and I've met so many people, so many of them have been coming in to say goodbye!

"It's so very hard to leave this place and say goodbye but everyone has their end of the line, and today is mine. But I will miss it very much."

Roy has appointed a young man as the new owner of the shop, and to celebrate his retirement, his staff have organised a surprise for him later this evening.

Hundreds of residents have come together to with Roy a happy retirement, many of which on the Shirley and Freemantle Community Watch Facebook page.

One commenter said: "The neighbourhood won't be the same without you. Very sad day for us, but hopefully a very happy day for you as you start your well-earned retirement knowing how much you are loved. All the best to one of the nicest families I have had the pleasure to know."

While another commented: "Enjoy your well-earned retirement mate. You always had a knack for making your customers feel important and welcome."

Residents who grew up in the area are planning on give Roy a socially-distanced applause as he locks the doors for the final time tonight at 8pm.