CELEBRATION: Alistair Dinwiddie cut the official ribbon with chief executive Andrew Haigh and invited guests
CELEBRATION: Alistair Dinwiddie cut the official ribbon with chief executive Andrew Haigh and invited guests

THERE was a party atmosphere in Barnard Castle last week with the official opening of the new, dedicated Newcastle Building Society branch in Market Place.

The opening was part of a multi million pound investment programme by the region’s largest building society and will see more new branches across the North East opening.

Existing customers were invited along to the official opening celebrations where there were drinks and nibbles and an opportunity to see the new style premises.

Chairman of Enterprise House, Alistair Dinwiddie, was invited to do the honours of cutting an official ribbon marking the opening of the premises.

Kathryn McLaughlin, head of corporate communications, said: “When others are closing branches we see a real opportunity in opening branches.

“What has been great is the positivity from local people and it’s brilliant feed back to hear people appreciate our commitment.

“We see this very much as a relationship with the community.”

Chief executive Andrew Haigh said the reception the Teesdale community had given them was testament to their decision in opening more new branches.

He said: “When you walk in here to see so many people come out and support us, it is a wonderful thing.

“It is a real expression of how welcoming the community has been to our plans to open our branch.

“We as a building society are bucking the trend. Whereas banks might be closing down we feel there is a real need for high street branches where people can talk to someone face to face.

“This is part of our programme of supporting local communities.

“We feel we have the right idea, providing local and personal service for the community and building a relationship.

You can’t do that if you operate solely online.

“This is what the building society is all about and it is really encouraging to see so many people here today. I love that it is so busy and I’m pleased we have had such a positive response.

“People still want to talk to someone face to face about some of the biggest financial decisions they make.

“We believe it is important part of the local community and if we show our commitment and support to the high street then maybe other retailers will commit as well.”

He added the layout of the branch had been carefully thought out and wanted to ensure there was a welcoming feel to it and none of the “barriers to be found in banks”.