Darlington Building Society held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in what has been described as the strangest of circumstances on Monday 27th April 2020, from its Head Office in Darlington.

The Society was forced to change the usual format of the event following the implementation of social distancing due to Coronavirus (COVID-19).  So instead of welcoming members to the Witham in Barnard Castle, Darlington Building Society asked members to remain at home.

A quorum of members from the Society’s staff were present at Head Office, socially distancing themselves from one another, and joined on-line by the Chairman, Directors,  a representative from external auditors Deloittes and Civica Election Services, independent voting scrutineers.

Members were still able to submit questions to the Board and vote by post and online for all the resolutions. At the AGM, Darlington Building Society Chairman Jack Cullen, gave a brief overview of the society’s performance in 2019, together with answering questions submitted by members ahead of the event.

Christopher Hunter, the Company Secretary and Richard Hall from Civica read out the results cast ahead of the meeting, demonstrating voting members overwhelming backing the Society, with all resolutions passed.

Speaking after the event Darlington Building Society Chief Executive Andrew Craddock said the meeting was held in very unusual circumstances. But stressed that over 3,000 member votes were cast before the meeting, questions were collected, whilst keeping everyone safe.

He said: “Darlington, like all UK banks and building societies, has been defined as an essential service provider by the Government, meaning we have a duty to ensure our services continue.”

“In the space of just a few weeks we have met the government’s expectations for social distancing, re-priced our savings and mortgages in reaction to two Bank of England base rate reductions – now at the lowest in the Bank of England’s 325-year history, introduced mortgage payment holidays for mortgages borrowers, whilst protecting our employees and enabling them in turn to look after their families and loved ones.

“I have great admiration for everyone who works for Darlington Building Society, in not only delivering but adapting our whole business to the ever-changing world around us.

“We’ve managed to get 90% of our head office colleagues set up and working from home together with keeping our whole branch network open – albeit under changed hours. And we’ve done so while keeping all of our colleagues on full pay – irrespective of their family responsibilities outside of work – we even managed to on-board two new recruits who joined the Society.”