An entrepreneur has celebrated more than 50 years in business.

Aged 21, Gordon Covell set up his insurance business in 1974 at the back of a car showroom in Westgate, Guisborough, and worked out of there for some years, before taking the opportunity to move into Westgate House, across the road.

Eventually an opportunity arose to move into premises in Highcliff View in the town centre, which had been a painter and decorator’s shop, and he opened up as an insurance broker with financial services.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Gordon Covell set up his insurance business in 1974 Picture: BRIAN GLEESON

Mr Covell said, “In those days, the regulatory framework wasn’t as it is now and the landscape has changed a lot over the years and we’ve changed with it. The main business was sold in the mid-90s and then I’ve tended to focus mainly on financial services and mortgages.”

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He added: “Today we’ve got over 4,500 mortgage clients and they’re predominantly situated in this area. For me, nothing’s changed in 50 years. The service standards that I started, I’ve maintained. As far as staffing goes we don’t have a big turnover of staff. We’ve had some retirements recently, but I’ve got staff here that’s been over 20 years now, we’re not a hire-and-fire organisation.”

Darlington and Stockton Times: Gordon Covell with staff Picture: BRIAN GLEESON

Mr Covell’s daughter, Emma, is now the managing director of the company and last year brought his grandson, Michael, into the company.

Mr Covell said that what was a mortgage club for directly authorised firms is now offering buildings and contents insurance, payment protection, conveyancing, overseas mortgages, and wills, as well as running as an online estate agent.

The business is now named Active Mortgages Services and the Dwela Estate Agency, and Mr Covell concluded: “What makes me happy is that I’ve got four generations of family in the business. I’m delighted to still exist today with transparency, integrity, and fair dealing. Those are the things that a small family company can give that sadly large companies can’t give.”

Last Thursday, his daughter and the office held a surprise party for him with a cake and a congratulatory visit from the town’s MP, Sir Simon Clarke. Mr Covell lives in Guisborough and is well known as a cornet player in the Guisborough Salvation Army Band.