A local building society has launched a new community scheme with the help of a stalwart of North East life and business.

Darlington Building Society, which has 10 branches covering County Durham, North Yorkshire and Teesside, is proud to be working with Peter Barron MBE, as the first of five community ambassadors from across its branch network.

In this role, Peter, who was awarded the MBE for services to journalism and North East life in 2014, and was editor of the Northern Echo for 18 years, will become a link between the society, its members and local people in the areas in which it has operated for more than 160 years.

He said: “Darlington Building Society has become known as an organisation that supports the local community in all kinds of ways. I went for a run around my village, Hurworth on Tees recently, and passed a cricket match. It was an idyllic British scene, and there was a Darlington Building Society banner on display, signalling the company’s support for grass roots sport. That is just one of many examples of the society reinvesting part of its profit back into the community.”

Darlington Building Society has made a public commitment to donate five per cent of its profit after tax to good causes in the area.  

Peter continued: “I’m proud of the longstanding relationship I have with Darlington Building Society, having worked in the local area for more than 33 years. I want to use that experience, local knowledge and my extensive network to help build on the enviable reputation the society has for community involvement.”

Peter, who was also the first ambassador for the Butterwick Hospice and is a Deputy Lieutenant of County Durham, is beginning his new role by opening a Darly Young Saver account at the society to mark the birth of his granddaughter Chloe, to build some savings for her future as she grows up.

The other four ambassadors that will be involved in the scheme will be from a range of backgrounds and represent all stages of life within the locations of Darlington Building Society’s branches. In particular, it is hoped the ambassadors scheme will help to bring even more support and awareness of the real difference that can be made in our local area though supporting a variety of organisations from around the local community.

Caroline Darnbrook, General Manager – Customer Strategy and Delivery, at Darlington Building Society, said: “The ambassadors scheme is an important step for us in giving back to our local communities in even more far reaching ways. We hope our ambassadors will be truly representative of our members and potential members across the generations, and we’re delighted that Peter has agreed to represent us in this way.”

President of Darlington Operatic Society, Peter added: “I’m really looking forward to working with a company which has an unrivalled reputation for community involvement and investing profits back into the local area. We’ve already discussed a number of exciting new initiatives and I can’t wait to get further involved. As a journalist and an author of several children’s books, I have a particular interest in literacy and I hope this is an area in which we can work together.

“There are countless small organisations carrying out invaluable work, which rely heavily on volunteers and financial donations. The society obviously can’t help them all but it leads the way in terms of corporate responsibility and that’s why I’m delighted to be a company ambassador.

“I want to play a part in spreading that positive impact. I hope I can help make a difference.”