Gascoines' employee, Rita Rippin, recently celebrated her 70th birthday. Rita is a familiar face in Southwell, having worked for the Gascoines' group for 53 years. You will currently find her employed behind the counter at the Loughborough Building Society, within Gascoines' Southwell branch.

Rita was just 17 years old when she first joined the company in 1962. She has seen many changes over the years, but still enjoys her job as much today as when she first started. Rita explains: "I am a people person. I love meeting people which my job allows me to do."

When asked what keeps her so young, Rita commented that keeping busy and active is her secret. She also thinks it is important to enjoy life.

Rita's colleagues gathered on her birthday to throw her a surprise party. Staff from across all five estate agency branches wished her many happy returns and toasted her continued success.

Rita received over 100 cards from family, friends and colleagues. She told us, 'My house looked like a florist's shop I had so many beautiful flowers from well-wishers. Thank you to everyone for all your kind words, cards and gifts.'

Douglas Gascoine, company founder, said: "Rita is and always has been an extremely valued member of staff. Her experience is second to none. We would all like to thank her for her outstanding record of long service."

Lisa Chamberlain