The Chorley and District Building Society was established in March 1859 to help mill workers buy their homes and, 161 years on, is now the oldest building society in Lancashire. Still offering mortgages and savings accounts to this day, the Chorley-based business is entering its 17th decade of doing what it does best.
Now running three branches located on Foxhole Road and High Street in Chorley and on Towngate in Leyland, the building society offers a wide range of financial services, including savings accounts, bonds, ISAs, mortgages, and insurance, and - as of February last year - had assets of a total value of £238.1m.
"How we work is quite different to a bank: if you were to apply for a mortgage with a bank, they'd run it through a system and it'd give you an answer of yes or no, whereas we have a team of underwriters who look at every application on its own merits," said Amy Egginton, Head of Products and Marketing. "That gives us the flexibility to work with the customers and gives us a more personal aspect.
"We've been around quite a while," added Amy, 35, who has been at the society for 20 months and whose work involves making sure the products they offer are competitive. "There's a lot of pride in the job; what we do makes a big difference to people whether they can borrow for a house or not. It makes the work more collaborative."
An Administrator in the mortgages team, Neve Stafford has worked at The Chorley and District Building Society for six months. "I deal with the in-bound and out-bound calls to businesses, solicitors, and brokers as well as the advances we release," said Neve, who commutes from Lytham. "From when they apply for mortgages to when we release offers, I deal with the administration for customers.
"I really enjoy my role; we work with a lot of local customers and as a small building society we get to build that one-to-one rapport with them and a close working relationship," Neve added. "I had one customer calling up last week saying that he'd paid off his mortgage and he just wanted to thank us and described us as a family because of how closely together the staff work.
"We support customers and work with them personally and I'm proud of the work we do; originally I came on a three-month contract but they've made it permanent," said Neve of her work at the building society, which has been shortlisted as a finalist in two categories of the 2020 British Bank Awards. "I love working here, it's a small society but it's brilliant - I wouldn't have accepted a permanent position unless I loved it."
More than just business 24/7, the building society also supports a wide variety of community and charity organisations through the society’s Affinity Savings Accounts, including the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, the society's charity of the year; Age UK Lancashire; St Catherine’s Hospice: and Derian House.
"The society engages in a wide range of fundraising activities in the community, providing support to deserving causes within the Lancashire area," explained Kim Roby, Customer Services Director. "Being locally-based and accountable means that our members and the wider community can see the positive differences being made by the society’s support to the places where they live and work.
"The society gives back to the community through our charity work, supporting community groups and sports clubs, and sponsoring events [and] being mutually-owned means that, unlike conventional banks, more of our profit goes back to our members," Kim added.
Born in Halifax, Amy still lives in Yorkshire but says that her willingness to undertake the daunting commute is a barometer of the job. "It shows you how much I like it that I commute from Leeds!" she said. "We have a good working atmosphere and in the work I do you get to work alongside other teams. You really get to see the fruits of your labour. "