An avid dog lover who ran a weekly cafe to raise money for canine charities has called it a day after ten years.
Derek Hepple, from Seaton Sluice in Northumberland, has sold hot drinks and scones from a caravan on his doorstep or at a nearby car park to raise funds for dog charities since 2003.
Now, at 72 years old, Derek has decided the time is right to give up his voluntary venture having raised tens of thousands of pounds over the decade.
His efforts were last night lauded by the latest charity to have benefited, which praised his support and commitment.
Derek, a former policeman who lives at Marine View, is a lover of dogs and currently has three rescue animals.
He began trading from a caravan at Fountain Bank car park in the village in 2003, initially raising money for Paws for Thought at Sunderland.
Every day, he would rise at 5am to drive the van to the car park and prepare for a 7.30am to 5pm day of trading.
Derek later ran his cafe to collect for the Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter and for the last three and a half to four years, SHAK (Safe Homes and Kindness) at Bedlington, which rescues and cares for large and aggressive animals which would otherwise be put down, has benefited.
Derek changed to trading from his drive before a dispute with a neighbour saw him having to move back to the car park around three years ago.
In recent years, he has traded on Sundays only but in previous years he also ran his cafe on Saturdays and bank holidays.
Derek has also sold calendars for Northumberland County Council to raise money for a number of dog charities, given gifts to the PDSA at Whitley Bay and sold raffle tickets for the Dogs Trust. Now, he has decided it is time to retire as the advancing years begin to take their toll.
“When I have been doing it on a Sunday all day I can not walk well on a Monday,” he said. “It is just with standing all the time.
“Do not get me wrong I loved doing it. It was a lovely social occasion. A lot of the oldies used to meet for a cuppa.”
Derek estimates he has raised tens of thousands of pounds over the years and reckons he has sold over 50,000 scones - all made by wife Sandra, 54.
Last night, Stephen Wylie, founder of SHAK, said: “It is a great shame that he is retiring. The man has gave tremendous support and commitment over those years and has obviously helped hundreds of dogs even before the time he started doing it for us.
“I am just extremely grateful for that commitment and all the work he has put in. He is going to be sorely missed and wish him all the best in putting his feet up on a Sunday.”