Staff at the new Bishop Auckland branch of Newcastle Building Society are inviting local people in for a Christmas cuppa, a piece of cake and a chat later this week.

Earlier this year, the Society made its first investment in the County Durham town by taking over 15 Newgate Street in the town centre, which was previously a Virgin Money store that was closing down.

Initial improvement work enabled the six-strong team to get the branch up and running, first offering the Society’s services via iPads and now can serve customers with full services in place.

A full refurbishment of the new branch is set to follow in the new year, which will deliver a modern and welcoming environment that provides customers with access to services, information, advice and private meeting spaces.

But first, branch manager Vita Zuiderent and her team will be donning their Christmas jumpers and inviting customers old and new to come along and enjoy some festive refreshments in the branch from 11am on Friday 13 December.

Newcastle Building Society is now more than two thirds of the way through an ambitious branch improvement programme which will see 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 full opening of the refurbished Bishop Auckland branch next year will take the number of Society branches across County Durham up to six.

Vita Zuiderent says: “We’ve had a great first few months in the town and want to mark the end of the year by saying thanks to everyone who’s been so welcoming since we opened our doors.

“The Society is investing in enhancing and upgrading a modern branch network that sits right at the heart of our operations, and through this, in helping to underpin the sustainability and success of communities like Bishop Auckland.

“We’ve got big plans for 2020 that will see our branch transformed into something really special and we’re looking forward to talking to as many local people as possible at our Christmas event about what’s in store.”