Colleagues at Newcastle Building Society’s community branch in Hawes are celebrating an ‘incredible’ first year in the town, having opened just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
The Wensleydale town, which had previously been without any banking services since 2019, welcomed the Society’s branch in February 2020, just weeks before the first national lockdown was announced.
The branch, located within the Hawes Community Office, is the result of a unique collaboration with the Upper Dales Community Partnership. As an essential service to the community, the branch remained open throughout the pandemic, and colleagues have been reflecting on an amazing first 12 months in the town.
Tim Larmour, Newcastle Building Society’s Hawes Branch Manager, said: “It’s definitely not been the first year in Hawes that we’d expected, but the community have been extremely welcoming and despite lockdown it’s been an incredible year.
“If anything, I feel that everything we’ve been through has helped the Society integrate into the Hawes community. We’re full of hope that as we recover from the pandemic, we’ll see the return of the dynamic town we’re all so passionate about.”
The Upper Dales Community Partnership is committed to ensuring Hawes has all of the services it requires, which includes a volunteer bus service and a community-run filling station.
Parish Council Chairman for Hawes and High Abbotside and the District Councillor for Hawes and Upper Swaledale, Jill McMullon, said: “Coronavirus has had a big impact on the town, and we’ve seen a significant fall in the number of tourists and visitors to Hawes, but people in rural areas are extraordinarily resilient and we’ve simply got on with helping each other throughout.
“The team at Newcastle Building Society have been a big part of that and we’ve enjoyed working with them to safely keep the community centre open throughout the year.”
The Hawes Community Branch project was 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 in places such as Hawes to suit local needs.
For more information about Newcastle Building Society and how it supports communities in the North East, North Yorkshire and Cumbria, visit www.newcastle.co.uk.