TYNEDALE Community Bank welcomed members and supporters to a conference at Hexham’s Beaumont Hotel to share the progress it has made in the six months since its launch.

Last Friday, the bank invited people to hear about its progress and plans for the future following a launch by Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York in November last year.

Since then, the bank has gone from strength to strength; it has a membership of nearly 100 people and one loan has already been repaid.

The conference included talks from founder director Lauren Langton, Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman, chairman of Prince Bishop’s Community Bank Alistair Jenkins, and vicar for the benefice of Haydon Bridge and Beltingham with Henshaw, the Rev. Benjamin Carter.

A fear of losing traditional banking, as more and more banks were withdrawing from the high street, led Tynedale Community Bank to form a partnership with Prince Bishop’s Community Bank, based in County Durham.

Mr Jenkins said: “This is old- style banking as it should be – customer led, relationship banking.”

An exciting development was announced which will see the bank working closely with schools in the area.

The bank has teamed up with national charity Young Enterprise on its LifeSavers project, a scheme where schools set up their own savings bank to promote a healthy attitude to money.

Collection days are held once a week, encouraging children to get into regular saving habits.

Work will begin on the scheme in September, with the savings banks starting in January.

Mr Jenkins added: “Working with schools is one of our most important priorities

“ If we can help just one child to think saving is a healthy way of life then we have saved one person from the future misery of pay day lenders.”

Allendale resident Kate Maughan said: “I love the idea of the schools project. A lot of people are so disjointed with money and where it comes from. I have two kids and I think it’s important for them to learn about money and saving as early as possible.”

Ms Langton, who worked in high street banking for 32 years, said the bank’s key aim was to encourage saving.

She added: “No single type of person takes out a loan with us and for no single purpose, but what they do have in common is they start with a very human story.

“There is a huge sense of satisfaction in being able to relieve someone’s financial burden.”

Tynedale Community Bank also plans to expand its number of information points. There is currently one at Hexham Abbey and one at Allendale Village Hall, with plans to set up more in Haydon Bridge, Bellingham and Prudhoe.”