Gateshead official opening pic oneThe founder of a Gateshead-based cancer charity has cut the traditional ribbon at the official opening of Newcastle Building Society’s new branch in the town.

Joanne Smith, who runs FACT Cancer Support, was invited to the honours at the opening of the new signature branch in Gateshead Trinity Square development.

The Society’s Gateshead branch team has raised over £4,000 so far for FACT through cake and book sales, raffles, tombolas and charity nights, and is set to continue its fundraising work on the charity’s behalf in their new home.

The North East’s biggest building society has chosen the prestigious as the home for its new signature branch.

As part of a £10m investment programme across the business, Newcastle Building Society has created a modern, open plan, welcoming branch in 1,800 sq ft of space in Trinity Square, with improved access to services and additional private meeting spaces for customers.

The official opening event saw over 100 customers, contacts and friends of the Society invited along to join in the celebrations, including members of the team from Lingey House Primary School in Gateshead who were recently named as the overall winners of the Newcastle’s Boardroom Charity Challenge.

The Challenge task school teams from right across the region to develop business ideas that focus on benefiting their local community while also making a profit, and the Lingey House team’s plan to stage a Funky Fashion Show won them the £1,000 first prize offered by the Newcastle to help them put their plans into action.

Founded by Joanne Smith in 2005 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34, FACT Cancer Support aims to help cancer patients, their families, and friends find opportunities for support, awareness and social interaction with people in similar situations, especially for younger people or those that have young families.

Joanne Smith says: “FACT very much appreciates the on-going support from Newcastle Building Society staff and customers.  As a local charity it means a lot to have this kind of support which helps us achieve a great deal in providing cancer support awareness and education throughout the North East.”

The new Gateshead branch follows on from recent upgrades being carried out at the Society’s Cramlington, North Shields branches and the relocated Chester-le-Street branch, as well as the opening of two purpose-built branch advice centres in central Newcastle earlier in the spring.

Andrew Haigh, Chief Executive at Newcastle Building Society, adds: “Our branch network is central to building relationships with our customers and our local communities, and provides a focus and foundation from which we can lend our support and assistance to local causes.

“It’s very appropriate that the person behind a charity with whom the Gateshead branch team has worked for around two years did us the honour of officially launching the new branch, and we’re grateful to Joanne and everyone else for coming along to help us mark our big day.

“Our branch network remains at the heart of everything we do, and it’s essential that we continue to invest in it to ensure we’re providing the facilities and services our customers want.

“The Trinity Square development is a real asset for Gateshead town centre, and it’s great for us to have been able to locate our new signature branch right at the heart of everything that’s happening there.”