THE last member of a family that has been associated with a popular gourmet food store for the last 35 years will leave the business for pastures new this week.

Bettina Bell has worked at Lewis & Cooper in Northallerton since 1985 – starting two years after her dad Tony Howard took over the running of the shop on the town’s High Street.

Along with twin sister Victoria, the pair were taken on as Saturday girls, working their way up through various roles to become directors of the business.

Victoria, who ran the hamper department from the Lewis & Cooper site at Northallerton Business Park, left last autumn and is now at the helm of Park House Country Guest House on the Coast to Coast route at Ingleby Cross, between Northallerton and Stokesley.

Ms Bell leaves on Thursday to become administration and marketing manager for Grays Machinery Ltd.

Her departure ends the family’s association with the store, which began in 1983 when Mr Howard took over, building the business up to include premises in Yarm and developing the hamper side of the enterprise.

Mr Howard’s late wife Mary ran the Northallerton store’s china department for about 15 years before retiring at the same time as her husband in 2006.

Ms Bell said: “I’ll miss the staff who are a fantastic team.

“I will also miss the customers and suppliers – many have become friends over the years.”

The historic Lewis & Cooper name dates back to 1899.