The chair of a South Shields community group has cut the ribbon to officially open Newcastle Building Society’s new branch in the town.

Tom Brownlee from the Men In Sheds South Tyneside group was invited to do the honours at the Society’s new full service and financial advice branch in the Denmark Centre, close to the town’s new transport interchange.

The new branch has been created as part of an ongoing multi-million-pound investment programme across the Society’s entire branch network.

Men In Sheds South Tyneside offers a fully-equipped workshop on Hutton Street in Boldon Colliery where skilled and unskilled men can share a space, work together on community projects and talk about what’s on their minds.

In 2017, the group used a £2,571 Society grant to buy a range of new tools, including a scroll saw, a woodturning lathe a Brad point drill set and a Bosch combi drill, which are now in use every day.

Newcastle Building Society is more than two thirds of the way through an ambitious branch improvement programme which will see work on new or improved facilities 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.

The new South Shields branch’s modern and welcoming environment offers customers easy access to services, information and advice across two floors, with a community space in which local people, groups and good causes can hold meetings and events also forming part of the design.

Stewart Nicol, manager at the new Denmark Centre branch, says: “We have a fantastic, easily-accessible new home right in the heart of South Shields and it was wonderful to be able to welcome so many customers along to it for our official opening event.

“While many other financial institutions are closing branches across the North East, we have been investing 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 next year.

“Men In Sheds South Tyneside has clear benefits for people living across our community in terms of tackling social isolation, and we’re grateful to Tom for coming along to doing the honours at our official opening event.”