DURHAM County Council leaders have congratulated a member of staff on 50 years of service with the authority.

Vehicle maintenance fitter, Michael Stevens, was just a 15-year-old apprentice when he started Durham City Council in 1969.

Now aged 65, he has stayed for half a century, keeping the council’s vehicle fleet on the road.

Mr Stevens was joined at his celebrations by the chief executive of the council, Terry Collins, and head of environment, Oliver Sherratt, to congratulate him for his hard work and dedication.

Mr Stevens, from Croxdale, was presented with a certificate and shopping voucher as a thank you for his dedication and long service.

Mr Collins said: “I was delighted to present Michael with his certificate and to thank him personally for his outstanding service. Fifty years is an incredible achievement. The council wishes him well for his future retirement.”

Mr Sherratt said: “Over 50 years Michael has amassed considerable experience and expertise in the maintenance and care of the council’s fleet to keep them on the road. He is highly regarded by all his work colleagues, who delight in him reaching this remarkable milestone, and wish him all the very best.”

Mr Stevens said: “I’ve enjoyed working here. That’s why I’ve stayed for 50 years, but when I do retire I am looking forward to concentrating on more rowing and cycling.”

He has proved to be a talented rower and represented Durham in the Rowing World Masters. He is to retire in September and is looking forward to spending more time on the water and sharing his free time with wife Dianne and his grandchildren.