NEWCASTLE Building Society has beaten strong competition to be named Innovator of the Year at a national awards ceremony.

The Newcastle won the Mortgage Finance Gazette awards after being nominated by a reader of the magazine for its work in introducing Internet terminals into its branches.

The award further enhances the Newcastle's growing reputation for technological expertise.

Earlier this year, the society's online savings account, NewcastleNet, won an ward for the best use of new media, at the Financial Sector Technology Awards.

Robert Hollinshead, chief executive of the society, said: "This is another stunning success for the Newcastle and we are all absolutely delighted.

"What makes this more significant is that we wouldn't have even been entered for it had a reader of the magazine not seen and been impressed by our programme of introducing Internet terminals across our branch network."

Earlier this year, the Newcastle began a trial of an online shopping mall in four of its North-East branches.

Customers were able to browse through more than 30,000 household products, all at prices lower than the High Street.

The service is being extended to all the society's UK branches.