A MOTOR dealer has marked 35 years at the wheel of a franchise.

Alasdair MacConachie, managing director of Sherwoods, celebrated the milestone with friends, colleagues and customers at the company’s Darlington showroom.

The 69-year-old was born in India and followed in his father's military footsteps before working for Anglo American and DeBeers Mining and the Ford Motor Company.

He joined Sherwoods as director responsible for commercial vehicle operations in 1981 before taking full control.

Cutting into a giant celebration cake, baked by catering tutor Donna Joyce, of Darlington College, where Mr MacConachie served as chairman of governors for 23 years, he said: ““We are very much a team; it’s not just all about me, we are all in it together and have all worked hard to make it the success it is.

“When I initially took over we had 35 members of staff, now we have 151 across our Darlington, Stockton and Northallerton dealerships."

Turnover has grown from £6m a year to more than £70m.

He was also presented with a supersize pork pie from Darlington butchers, Taylors, by his son and general manager, Simon.

Alongside his time in the motor industry, Mr MacConachie, has been an active member in the local community. He was honoured with the Freedom of the Borough of Darlington in 2012, is a past High Sheriff, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from Teesside University and received an OBE in 2004.