DOZENS of customers defied the winter weather to attend the official opening of Consett’s newly-upgraded building society branch.

Newcastle Building Society has upgraded the facilities available at its Middle Street branch as part of its ongoing multi-million-pound investment and improvement programme across its entire network.

Well-known businessman Barry Kingston, owner of the nearby Barry’s Bargain Superstore, was invited to cut the ribbon at the special Christmas-themed event.

Entertainment from local singer Laura Skelton and free refreshment also formed part of the event.

Andy Rose, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s Consett branch, said: “While the weather outside was frightful, we had a great atmosphere inside the branch and we’re very glad that so many customers managed to join us for our opening event.

“While many other financial institutions are closing branches across the North East, the Society is investing in enhancing and upgrading a modern branch network that sits right at the heart of our operations.

“Barry is a well-known local figure who, like us, has invested in maintaining the vitality and sustainability of the local community and we’re grateful that he could take the time to carry out our official opening.”

The upgraded branch provides a modern welcoming environment, and offers customers easy access to services, information and advice, as well as to a private meeting space.