THE stars of Darlington Building Society have been celebrated in a staff awards ceremony at the end of an unprecedented year in the organisation’s 165-year history.

And, in a surprise twist, staff voted unanimously for their own Chief Executive, Andrew Craddock, for the final award – Inspirational Leader of the Year.

Vice Chairman, Bob Cuffe, who compered the virtual awards at the end of the annual staff conference, said Mr Craddock was a deserved winner for “navigating the Society ship through unchartered waters…in a caring way that was both heartwarming and inspiring”.

Mr Cuffe had begun the presentations by saying: “Never has support from our colleagues been so important, or meant so much to us, given the year we have all experienced and worked through.”

Mr Craddock, who had known nothing about the award, said: “I am very proud and privileged to lead this organisation. Thanks to the contributions you have all made, we have had a very good year in extremely challenging circumstances, and we have an ambitious future in front of us.”

Other highlights included a new award for “Exceptional One-Off Contribution” to Learning and Development Manager, Andy Kane, for working tirelessly in taking on the “incredibly vital” additional role of overseeing the Society’s responsibilities in ensuring the safety of staff and members during the pandemic.

Andy’s commitment to keeping up to date with Government guidance on safety measures, and checking PPE supplies and distribution, led to widespread praise from colleagues.

Mr Cuffe described it as “quite a task and one hell of a responsibility”.


Long Service Awards: Caroline Bailey and Carole Wilson (40 years); Trish Brown (20 years); Jonathan Harwood, Michael Walton and Nicola Hogan (10 years).

Institute of Leadership and Management: Jonny Snee, Alex Robson, Clare Wilson, Jenny Condren and Lisa Sidgwick.

Making a Difference (Approachable): Sharon Willetts.

Making a Difference (Genuine): Kath Leighton.

Making a Difference (Helpful): Rachel Spence.

Making a Difference (Inspiring): Lauren Fleming

Making a Difference (Knowledgeable): June Cuthbert.

Making a Difference (Passionate): Trish Brown.

Overall Making a Difference Award: Clare Wilson.

Ambassador of the Year: Caroline Bailey.

Team of the Year: Financial Support.

Branch of the Year: Redcar.

Rising Star (Head Office): Abigail Simpson.

Rising Star (Branch network): Adam Swainston.

Exceptional One-Off Contribution: Andy Kane.

Inspirational Leader of the Year: Andrew Craddock