FOR 34 years the husband and wife team of doctors Nigel Bacon and Judith Alexander have been helping Valley residents through the best and worst times in life.
However in what's been described as the end of an era by their colleagues and patients at Grafton's Queen Street Clinic, the pair yesterday retired from full-time medicine after one final Friday shift.
Dr Bacon said his final consultations yesterday - one of which was with a patient who has been with him for 30 years - were bitter-sweet.
"I've loved having such a wonderful practice to work in, wonderful staff to work with and, of course, the fantastic patients I've been able to work with here too," he said.
Dr Bacon, who started the Queen St Clinic with a group of doctors 22 years ago, said one of the great privileges of working in a regional area was forming a bond with local families. In fact, he said he'd been treating four (and sometimes five) generations of a number of different families in the area.
"You see the highs and the lows; when you see four generations of a family, you're with them through the sad times and the happy times, but they need support through everything and it's a privilege to look after people and to be able to help them through that," he said.
Dr Bacon said he and Dr Alexander were planning to gradually ease into retirement and enjoy their seven grandchildren.
He won't be hanging up his stethoscope for good though; he said he wanted to start doing some remote locum work and would still be working about four months a year.
Queen St Clinic manager Mandy Chapman said the pair of doctors would be greatly missed.