Darlington Building Society has promised to go on sharing its profits with local good causes for the next five years.

The Society has donated five per cent of its profits to support the community since 2017, helping a wide range of groups and initiatives.

Darlington Building Society normally reviews the pledge annually, but chief executive Andrew Craddock has announced that the Society will maintain the five per cent pledge until 2025 to tie in with the 200th anniversary of the world’s first public railway between Stockton and Darlington.

Mr Craddock had planned to unveil the ‘five per cent for five years’ pledge to members at this year’s annual general meeting. The meeting could not go ahead in the normal way, due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the promise was still made at a virtual event. The board is also exploring ways to top up the amount given to local communities during that period.

“The five per cent pledge is close to our hearts, so we want it to continue despite all the challenges. Our communities still need our help so that financial support will remain in place, not just annually, but for the next five years,” says Mr Craddock.

Staff volunteering is also a big part of Darlington Building Society’s community commitment and that has also been reinforced during the Covid-19 crisis.

At the start of the lockdown, the Society promised staff they would be kept on full pay even though some have been working part-time due to the challenges posed by the pandemic. They were encouraged to use that spare capacity to help their local communities, and a large number signed up to volunteer for the NHS.

As a southerner, being born and raised in Buckinghamshire, Mr Craddock has been impressed by the strength of community spirit in the North-East – and the response of the staff at Darlington Building Society is typical of that sense of togetherness.

“We are all going through difficult times, but it is the acts of kindness, and the way people are looking out for each other, that have been so inspiring,” he says. “That is particularly evident in the North-East – and I’m proud that Darlington Building Society is playing its full part and has remained open for business throughout.”