Dozens of local people turned out to see one of Newcastle Building Society’s oldest customers cut the ribbon to officially open its new community branch in her home town.
99-year-old Joan Williams was guest of honour at the opening event for the Society’s new branch in the Cheviot Centre community hub on Padgepool Place in Wooler.
The project came about after the Society and the Glendale Gateway Trust formed for a new partnership to ensure financial services remained available to people living in and around the rural Northumberland town after the last remaining bank pulled out of it last year.
Entertainment was provided at the official opening by local community group The Cheviot Singers.
Work has been taking place over the last few months in the Cheviot Centre, which already offers tourist information services, a library and community meeting spaces, 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.
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.
Siobhan Younger, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s Wooler branch, said: “There’s been a real enthusiasm in the local community for this project and it was great to see so many people coming along to take a look at what we’ve created here.
“The Society is continuing to invest heavily in enhancing and upgrading a modern branch network that sits right at the heart of our operations, and so contributing to the sustainability of vibrant communities like Wooler.
“Joan is a real inspiration and it was lovely to have her as our guest of honour for our opening event.”