Dr Ramaswamy Thangavelu had no idea of the reception awaiting him as he turned into Crookwell's main street on Friday.
There, lining both sides stood members of the Crookwell and district community who turned out in force, cheering and clapping their much-loved GP. They bore placards with 'True blue Dr Velu' and 'Hooroo Velu' as the classic car in which he and wife, Chandra, were carried made its way to the hospital.
On arrival, staff and management formed another guard of honour and threw streamers and even toilet paper for the Visiting Medical Officer (VMO) of the past 45 years.
"It was overwhelming," an emotional Dr Velu said afterwards.
"I couldn't have imagined anything like this happening to me. It's so good."
Dr Velu is stepping down from VMO duties at Crookwell Hospital but will continue in private practice. The town and hospital staff planned Friday's reception and a lunch afterwards as a surprise.
The 85-year-old is widely respected and loved for his dedication to the community. He's delivered generations of the one family, performed life-saving operations as a surgeon and run a GP practice.
"He's a town icon and will be greatly missed," newsagent Floyd Davies said.
"He's loved by the town and district and the fact that people have turned out like this is a testament to him."
Stories flowed freely of babies he'd delivered under difficult circumstances, the lives he'd saved, the long hours he'd given without complaint, and going above and beyond for his patients.
Registered nurse Donny Skelly said Dr Velu, as he was popularly known, was the most dedicated professional she'd encountered in 30 years of nursing.
"He's so calm in any emergency. He's been a mentor to all of us," she said.
"At one time he was the only doctor at the hospital and he coped with anything thrown at him. Nothing was too much trouble. He's the go-to person for so many things and I can't imagine coming to work without him."
Others, like former deputy nurse unit manager Julie Eldridge said Dr Velu had a special gift in diagnosing patients.
"When he looked after them they were his sole focus," she told the hospital gathering.
"...Today is a tribute to the good person you are."
Nurse unit manager Debbie Hay announced that the hospital had applied to name its soon to be upgraded emergency department after Dr Velu.
Staff and management presented him and Chandra with gifts, including a framed 1933 photograph of the hospital.
Special guests included Southern NSW Local Health District CEO, Margaret Bennett, the Health District's northern cluster manager Denis Thomas and former Crookwell Hospital nurse unit manager and now Goulburn Base Hospital redevelopment project officer, Kerry Hort.
Dr Velu's family was also on hand for the farewell.
Dr Velu quipped that it was his "destiny" to come to Crookwell Hospital, noting that the foundation stone was laid on October 10, his birthday, albeit in a different year.
"I was greeted with enthusiasm and affection and that's been the reward of working in a country town," he said.
"We've worked as a team and a family so it's been a big adventure in my life that's been very enjoyable and rewarding."
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