AFTER more than four decades of helping the people of Didcot look after their pets, a well-known retailer is closing up shop.

Vic Thomas has run the Angel Aquarium and Pet Centre with wife Cindy in Brasenose Road for the past 44 years, but will sell his final can of pet food in the new year before he goes into retirement.

The 75-year-old, who lives in the town, started the business in 1973, moving into an industry he had always been interested in after previously owning a health spa.

Several customers, and their pets, have become close friends and Mr Thomas fondly remembers the many times he has helped bring animals back to good health with his recommendations.

He said that one of the major differences between now and then is the increase in people owning reptiles, such as snakes and lizards.

At the same time interest in building ponds and keeping rabbits has decreased as back gardens get smaller and more people move into flats.

But cats, dogs and hamsters are always increasing in popularity, according to Mr Thomas.

Reflecting on his final few weeks in the job, he said: "There's some sadness to give it all up, it's been my life for so long.

"We started it ourselves from just a shell and built it up into what is a business that prides itself on good service.

"It feels like the right time to step away from it now.

"But I will always stay interested in people's pets and the industry."

Another major change over the past four decades has been the rise in competition from online retailers and big supermarkets, which Mr Thomas says has 'made it a lot harder' to run a small business.

He tried to sell the store on as a pet shop but nobody was willing to buy it, and it has instead taken on by a printing company.

A closing down sale is taking place in the run up to Christmas and Mr Thomas said the shelves have almost been emptied of items, including fish tanks, ponds supplies and kennels.

Mr Thomas has not yet set a definite closing date, but said the shop will shut at some point in the new year after the sale is complete.

Many customers past and present have been sharing their memories online after hearing about the shop's imminent closure.

Pauline Chandler said: "We used to shop here for our tropical fish for many years during the1970s and 80s – it brings back a lot of memories from when my boys were small."

Sarah Allen added: "I remember when I was little (33 years ago!) and I used to go to this shop with my grandad to go look at the fish."