Kara-Mai and Alex cut the ribbon at Newcastle Building Society's new Durham branch

Release date: 21st February

The young daughter of an award-winning community sports coach has helped her Dad cut the ribbon at the official opening of the North East's biggest building society's newest branch.

Newcastle Building Society has created a modern, open plan branch and advice centre on Saddler Street in Durham city centre as part of a continuing branch investment programme across its North East and Cumbrian heartland.

The Society invited Alex Oliver, founder and head coach at Brandon Boxing Club, to officially open the new branch in recognition of the British Empire Medal he was awarded in the latest Queen's New Year's Honours list for services to charity and to the community.

Alex's eight year-old daughter Kara-mai stole the show by helping him do the honours.

Currently based at the Brandon and Carside Youth and Community Centre, Brandon Boxing Club was set up by Alex in 2013 with a view to giving anyone from around the region the chance to get fit and learn new boxing skills, regardless of age, sex or disability.

The club offers eight training sessions every week which are run by its ten qualified coaches and it has grown to now have more than 100 people accessing its facilities.

The Club is about to move into a brand new, purpose-built facility at Brandon Sports Club, and will be holding an official opening event on the 2nd April, which is Easter Monday.

As well as running the boxing club, Alex is also involved with raising money for a range of local charities and good causes, including Trinity School Durham where Kara-mai is a pupil.

Stuart Miller, customer director at Newcastle Building Society, said: "Alex does so much for his local community and the official recognition that he has recently received for this is extremely well deserved.

“Supporting our communities is core to what we do as a Society, and with this in mind, it seemed very fitting to invite Alex and Kara-mai to open our new Durham branch."

The new 1,400sq ft Saddler Street branch provides customers with access to services, information and advice, as well as improved meeting spaces to discuss all aspects of personal financial planning.

A community wall also forms part of the design, and is now helping to connect local people, groups and good causes with information about events and activities happening in the area.

Durham is the latest branch in the Society's 27-strong network to receive significant investment in the last two years.

This follows upgrades in Cramlington and North Shields, branch relocations in Gateshead, Darlington and Chester-le-Street, the launch of two new Branch and Advice Centres  in central Newcastle, and an innovative partnership branch being opened in Yarm Library.

Stuart Miller adds: "At a time when many financial institutions are closing branches in towns across the region, we remain fully committed to keeping our branch network right at the heart of our operations.

"As the North East’s biggest Building Society we believe that the provision of face to face advice and services on the High Street are vital to sustainable, vibrant local communities.

"Our new Durham branch represents our latest investment in the type of modern branch facilities and services that we believe customers are entitled to expect, and we're very pleased with the hugely positive reaction we've had since opening our doors."