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James became Chair of Newcastle Building Society in August 2021. Prior to this, he was Chief Executive of the North East England Chamber of Commerce for 15 years, and Chairman of Darlington Building Society until December 2017.

Previously James was Vice Chairman of North East construction firm, the Esh Group, and before this spent 14 years in corporate banking in Barclays Bank plc, latterly as Marketing Director.

James is Chair of Newcastle Financial Advisers Limited, Newcastle Strategic Solutions Limited, as well as being Chair of the Society’s Nominations Committee, and a member of the Group Risk Committee. He was a soldier for 12 years with the Royal Green Jackets, and benefited from executive education at Harvard (USA), INSEAD (France), and Oxford University, after graduating from Durham University. He maintains his associations with the military as an Honorary Colonel for The Rifles in County Durham and as a Deputy Lieutenant and is a Trustee for The Foundation of Light, The Willan Trust and the Gillian Dickinson Trust.

James was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration by Sunderland University in 2016 (where he’s also Pro-Chancellor), made an Honorary Fellow of the Association of International Accountants in 2017; and awarded a CBE for services to business and the North East economy in the 2019 New Year’s Honours list.

“Fulfilling roles as Trustee for The Foundation of Light (Sunderland AFC), and giving time to Durham Cathedral and Sunderland University, I’m passionate about equity, diversity and inclusion and how we can embed this in the Society’s strategy.”