A GOVERNMENT minister has praised Darlington Building Society for its “amazing track record” in the community as he officially opened its new flagship branch today.
Gareth Davies, the Exchequer Secretary for HM Treasury, cut the ribbon to open the new branch in High Row, Darlington – 167 years after the Society was founded.
Mr Davies said: “I am delighted to be here to recognise the importance of Darlington to this Government, and the importance of Darlington Building Society to the town. Darlington Building Society goes way beyond providing financial services. It has an amazing track record of charitable giving and providing financial education.”
The minister was joined in the ribbon-cutting ceremony by veteran Darlington market trader, Robin Blair, who has served in the family fruit and veg stall for more than 70 years.
Darlington Building Society provided Mr Blair with his first and only ever mortgage to help him buy his first marital home in 1973. He and his wife Alwyn still live in the same house and remain loyal members of the Society.
Mr Blair said: “Darlington Building Society has been part of the town for such a long time and it’s wonderful, and very important, to see it continuing to support the town centre. The Society makes a huge difference to the local community and that is very much appreciated.”
The Society’s Chief Executive, Andrew Craddock, said Mr Blair was chosen to be guest of honour at the opening ceremony because he “personifies our values of friendly service, a commitment to the community, loyalty and trust”.
The relocation of the Darlington branch from Tubwell Row to a more prominent location in High Row represents a significant investment by the Society in its network of nine branches, bucking the trend of recent branch closures by the big banks.
Mr Craddock said: “This is not just a new branch but a very visible demonstration of our commitment to Darlington, to local High Streets, and to providing a local, convenient, and accessible way for our members to interact with our colleagues and operate their mortgage and savings accounts.
“I am convinced that this will be a great place for our colleagues to look after our members and provide a hub for the local community.”
Darlington MP Peter Gibson added: “I’m delighted to welcome yet another Government minister to Darlington, and it’s fantastic to see Darlington Building Society continuing to go from strength to strength with this major investment in High Row.”