A well-known family doctor in Larne has hung up his stethoscope as he retires after 32 years.
Family, friends and colleagues gathered at Larne Health Centre on Wednesday afternoon to bid farewell to Dr Peter Howie.
The GP has been working in the area since 1986, having been based at Larne Health Centre since it was established in 1999.
Originally from Ballygomartin in north Belfast, the Queen’s University graduate worked for two years in Newtownards.
He spent another year working in obstetrics - an aspect of the job he says he thoroughly enjoyed.
“I used to do deliveries at the Moyle [Hospital],” Dr Howie said. “I always really enjoyed the maternity side of things; I’m a bit of a pudding for kids.”
Father to Kathryn, Geoffrey, Fiona and Ruth and a grandfather of three, he is married to Mary, who herself retires this week after 15 years teaching at Roddensvale School in the town.
Over the years, Dr Howie has seen many generations of the same family pass through the practice. “You get to know people very well and share an awful lot with them,” he said.
“It’s like having two families - one at home and one here.”
Praising his colleagues, he added: “The team we have here are brilliant; we have always had a real laugh together and most days you really look forward to coming in to work.”
Healthcare, meanwhile has seen “massive changes” over the past three decades, leading to better outcomes for patients: “There are diabetes clinics, asthma clinics; wonderful things have happened in general practice and it’s all led to great improvements.”
After decades spent caring for others, Dr Howie is looking forward to spending time with his family. He added: “I’m a very busy person; I like to walk, run and cycle and do a bit of gardening.”
Paying tribute to Dr Howie on Wednesday were his patients and colleagues, including partners Dr Roma Caldwell, Dr Paul Brown, and Dr Eve Armstrong.
Dr Caldwell praised the “caring and supportive” GP for his help through the years.