THERE was a double celebration for a Darlington purchase ledger as she discovered she was in remission from breast cancer and had her long service recognised by her employer.

Judith Madrell, from Cockerton, who turned 70 last month, has worked at Ford dealer Evans Halshaw, for the past 38 years.

She joined the dealership in January 1976 at the age of 32. Since then she has seen a lot of changes come in, from new technology to fresh faces, but her loyalty has remained.

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Mrs Madrell said: “When I first started here there were no computers, everything was either done by hand or on a typewriter.

“I still remember the amounts of cards we used to use to do things- it’s very different now. We have had to adapt and change together as a team over the years.”

Colleagues at the dealership, in Croft Road, have a further reason to pop the champagne corks as Judith is now in remission from breast cancer.

She added: “When you are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, so many things change in your life, like your priorities and how people react to you.

“Working here has always been like having another family and after radiotherapy it was great to have some normality in my life.

“I would come in on a Monday morning, everyone was so kind they helped me focus on something other than the cancer.

“It brought a sense of normality back in my life and I truly believe that work has helped me through.” The dealership presented Mrs Madrell with flowers and £100 worth of Marks and Spencer vouchers to mark her birthday and her long-standing service with the dealership.

She also received an all-expenses-paid lunch at a local hotel.

Gary Symes dealer principle at Evans Halshaw, said: “We feel so lucky to have Judith as part of our team here and we wanted to mark her many milestones.

“I would like to thank Judith for all her hard work over the years.

“Her commitment has meant thousands of customers have left the forecourt happy and the dealership has run smoothly for nearly 40 years. Her dedication will always make Judith an asset to the team.”