CaptureA LEADING motor dealer with a driving passion for business has marked 35 years at the wheel of one of the most successful Vauxhall franchises in the country.

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

One of the best known businessmen in the town, Mr MacConachie, 69, was born in India and educated in Rhodesia, before following a career in his father’s military footsteps.

He later worked for Anglo American and DeBeers Mining before moving to the Ford Motor Company.

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

Cutting into a giant celebration cake, baked by catering tutor Donna Joyce, of Darlington College, where Mr MacConachie served as chair of governors for 23 years, he said: “Sherwoods is a very special business and as I grow older my passion for it also continues to grow.

“We are very much a team here; 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 working for us, now we have 151 across our Darlington, Stockton and Northallerton dealerships. Turnover was £6m a year, now it’s over £70m, so the world really is our oyster and I hope that everyone keeps on enjoying it as much as I do.”

Alongside his three and a half decades in the motor industry, Mr MacConachie, has also continued to be an active member in the local community as president of St Teresa’s Hospice, Darlington, chairman of Durham School, chairman of the Independent Advisory Panel for the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick, a member of the Rotary Club of Darlington, chairman of the Darlington Partnership and Vice Lord Lieutenant for County Durham.

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.

Presenting his father with a supersize celebration pork pie from his favourite Darlington butchers Taylors, Sherwoods general manager Simon MacConachie added: “My father took over Sherwoods when I was just two-years-old.

“I’ve grown up with the business all my life and seen first hand how much enthusiasm and dedication he has put into it.

“Apart from his wife and family, Sherwoods has been his one true passion in life and no doubt will continue to be for many more years to come.”