One of Newcastle Building Society’s oldest customers is set to carry out the official opening of its new community branch in her home town.

Last year, the Society and the Glendale Gateway Trust announced plans for a new partnership which would see a community branch established in the Cheviot Centre community hub on Padgepool Place in Wooler, which already offers tourist information services, a library and community meeting spaces.

Work has been ongoing over the last few months to prepare the new branch, with a recent £15,000 grant from the Society’s Community Fund also paying for much-needed repairs to the Centre’s glazed atrium roof.

And now, 99 year-old Joan Williams is set to cut the ribbon at the new Wooler branch as part of an official opening event for customers, which begins at 11am on Thursday 6 February.

Free refreshments will be on offer at the event, with entertainment being provided by local community group The Cheviot Singers.

The Wooler project has been developed as part of a wider Society strategy for creating a step change in how it delivers its services to different towns and communities, including re-imagining its locations and adapting its approach to suit local needs where required.

It is more than two thirds of the way through an ambitious branch improvement programme which involves work on new or improved facilities being carried out in every part of its existing branch network and new branches being opened in a number of locations across the North East and North Yorkshire.

Stuart Miller, customer director at Newcastle Building Society, said: “Providing easy access to face-to-face financial services and advice is a key part of the contribution we make to the sustainability of communities right across our region and we’re extremely pleased to be extending this approach to Wooler in partnership with the Glendale Gateway Trust.

“While many other financial institutions have been pulling out of communities like Wooler, we have been continuing to invest heavily in enhancing and upgrading a modern branch network that sits right at the heart of our operations, and have plans to do even more this year.

“The local response we’ve had to our plans over the last few months has been terrific and we’re excited to be officially opening our doors in Wooler to customers old and new.

“We’re grateful to Joan for taking the time to officially open the new branch and hope as many people as possible will come along to celebrate this milestone with us.”