A COUNCIL employee who joined its staff 43 years ago as a 16-year-old junior clerk is retiring after spending 29 of them collecting its business rates.

Ribble Valley borough's chief executive Marshal Scott said Lesley Helm was 'an outstanding officer'.

She said: “The job was very different when I started. In those days, there were no computers and everything was handwritten, including bills, and we had huge rates ledgers that we kept by hand.

“I remember the first council’s photocopier. It’s amazing how much technology has changed the way we work.”

Ms Helm hopes to tour England with her partner John in their motorhome.

They will also visiting family in Malta.

She 1975 aged 16 as a junior clerk in the then treasurer’s office and was appointed business rates officer in 1990, a post she has held ever since.

Whalley estate agent and chartered surveyor John Atherton, who is chairman of Whalley Chamber of Trade, said: “I have been dealing with Lesley for 25 years. She is extremely efficient and helpful, and has provided a first-rate public service. She will certainly be missed.”

Mr Scott said: “We wish her the very best for a happy and well-earned retirement.”

Katie Bancroft, manager at Manor Court Offices in Ribchester, said: “We have 41 offices and our relationship with Lesley is a key factor in our smooth operation.

"She really is one of a kind – nothing is ever too much trouble and she is always incredibly helpful. She will certainly be missed and we wish her the very best for the future.”