WELL that’s it.

After 27 years and around 1,400 columns, this is my last one.

In the 40 years since I started on this paper there’s been thousands of other columns and features too. But all good things…

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It’s been a great privilege and good fun, give or take the occasional abuse and threat of legal action.

The best bit has been getting to know readers, so many lovely people... though not perhaps the one who came up to me in the middle of Sainsburys once and said “You don’t half write a lot of tripe.” Ah well, You can’t please them all.

But in letters, emails and conversations we’ve covered a lot of ground together. So, as a final farewell, here’s a few of the things we’ve learned over the years….

• Any child who can use a smartphone can work a washing machine. And a Hoover. And an oven.

• Never, ever renew insurance without getting other quotes. Loyalty just gets you treated like a mug. Shopping around could save you HUNDREDS of pounds

• There is no such thing as a nagging wife – just a man that won’t do as he’s asked the first, second or third time of asking.

• Ready-prepared vegetables are the work of the devil. Except for pomegranates. And runner beans. And maybe butternut squash.

• “Your call is very important to us” is a LIE.

• There is no such thing as the perfect mother. If there were, she’d be absolutely unbearable.

• Governments can’t solve the problem of child obesity. Parents can.

• A new lipstick on a bad day is worth every penny.

• Methodists do the best teas. But Anglicans have wine… • Fresh air and exercise don’t cure everything but they often help a lot. So get off your bum and go for a walk. Honestly, you’ll feel better for it.

Meanwhile, there are some mysteries that still baffle us… Wrapping coconuts in plastic.

Why Victoria Beckham never smiles.

Why restaurants play loud background music. It doesn’t create a pleasant atmosphere, it just makes people CROSS.

Why two years ago the government was encouraging us to buy diesel cars and now they’re punishing us for it.

Why there are so many diet books and health initiatives and we all still get fatter.

Why church ladies still make hassocks when no one ever kneels any more.

Why M & S sell knickers on hangers.

When there have never been so many cookery programmes and cookery books, yet fewer people than ever actually cook.

When – or even if – the roadworks at Scotch Corner are ever going to be finished.

And finally… I leave you with a message that my mother - a great worrier – used to have pinned to her wall: “Nothing matters very much and few things matter at all.”

It’s not quite true, but it’s still a cheering thought.

Goodbye.

YOUR MESSAGES TO SHARON

Peter Barron: Thanks for the fun, the common sense and for enriching the paper, Sharon. You will be missed xx

Beryl Hankin: Just want to wish you good luck in whatever you do, Sharon. I remember the first time we met you as if it was yesterday, even though it must have been back in the 1980's when you first walked into our Court Arcade shop.

We thought you were a customer as you browsed our shelves and found one of my old Latin books which I had for sale. I mean a Latin book in a boutique. How quirky was that?

Anyway, you eventually came over to my mam and I and said, "I'm really sorry but I'm a journalist and I'd like to do a piece on Guru Boutique"!

SORRY?

I don't know why anyone would be sorry as we were so grateful that you had bothered to seek us out, but I  did find the fact that you said that to be really nice and probably typical of your good nature.

Anyway, it was a lovely piece you did about us and I have been a fan of yours ever since. I will miss reading your interesting features but as I said at the beginning of this, I really do wish you well. Love, from Beryl and all the Gurus. xx

Linda Watts: I was shocked and really disappointed to read Sharon’s news. I’m sure there are hundreds if not thousands of readers who have looked forward to her Friday contributions.

Hers is one of the few articles which brighten up the day, and I wish her all the very best, and hope she might reconsider her decision.

Barbara Williamson: Will miss you Sharon. Have read your column from day one.

Will you be writing more books or spending more time with the grandchildren?

Is Mike retiring too?

Whatever you do enjoy it and thank you for the joy you have given us over the years.

Paula Longstaff: A very happy retirement to you.  I  have read your column for a number of years and although I know longer live in the North-East I do subscribe to the Echo.  

Thank you for your words of wisdom, your wit and charm over the years.

You once wrote a great piece about my brother and his window cleaning business.  Dru Hamilton. So thank you for that too.

I hope you have an awesome retirement with someone else making you smile as you continue to read The Echo.