MARGARET Gamble’s association with Darlington Building Society stretches back more than half a century – and she is as happy with the service now as she was then.

Margaret first opened a savings account at the Society’s Middlesbrough branch in 1965 because she needed somewhere safe for her £12-a-week wages.

“In those days, people were paid in cash, inside an envelope,” recalls Margaret, who was a trainee secretary with Head Wrightson ironworks, at Thornaby.

Margaret had met her future husband, Stephen, and together they saved enough to put down a £250 deposit on a three-bedroomed home, costing £2,250.

The couple got married at Norton Methodist Church in 1967 and moved into the house, in Ashford Avenue, Acklam, within hours of the wedding reception.

Margaret and Stephen also had their home insurance with DBS, and opened junior savings accounts for their two sons, Stephen and Mark.

“We always found we could trust Darlington Building Society because it was smaller and friendlier than the big banks.

“As the banks got bigger, Darlington Building Society stayed the same, and always kept that personal touch. The staff were always pleasant and helpful and we were able to build up a nice relationship.

“If ever there was something worrying us, it was never a problem getting help. Other places have lost that personal service, but Darlington Building Society has never changed, so there’s never been a reason to go anywhere else.”

After leaving Head Wrightson, Margaret went on to work as a secretary for a variety of employers, including the Evening Gazette and St Luke’s Hospital. Stephen ran a garage business in Middlesbrough, SP Motors (North East Ltd) which is run these days by Stephen junior.

Now retired, the couple still have their savings accounts with Darlington Building Society and are regular visitors to the Middlesbrough branch.

Margaret added: “We have three grandchildren and we’ve used our savings to go on some lovely cruises to places like the Caribbean and Venice, so we’ve been very lucky,” says Margaret.

And, 53 years after moving into their first home on their wedding day, that’s where they’re still living… happily ever after.

Branch manager Nicola Donaghue said: “Mrs Gamble is such a special lady and loyal customer, and it’s lovely to know that she’s placed her trust in Darlington Building Society for so long.”