The founder of a North East charity which helps bereaved children cope with the loss of a sibling is set to officially reopen Newcastle Building Society’s newly-upgraded Ponteland branch.

Petra Williams set up Darcey’s Dream in memory of her daughter Darcey, who tragically passed away in 2017 at just nine and a half weeks old, leaving behind her twin sister Layla-Grace and older sister Emelia-Paige.

Darcey’s Dream provides a wide range of support and advice for bereaved families, and won a £3,000 grant from the Society’s Community Fund earlier this year to fund sibling distraction therapy sessions for around 150 children who have lost a brother or sister.

This will enable them to undertake different sorts of ‘normal’ activities, such as music, sensory and soft play, football, swimming and dancing, which provide a welcome break from the difficulties the children and their families are facing at home.

Petra will be cutting the ribbon at the new open plan branch on Broadway in Darras Hall, which the Society has created as part of an ongoing, multi-million pound investment programme across its entire branch network.

The official opening event, which starts at 11am on Monday 22 July, has a summer theme, and will also include free refreshments for customers and a chance to win a hamper.

The upgraded branch will provide Society customers with better access to services, information and advice, as well as improved meeting spaces to discuss all aspects of personal financial planning.

The Society has just passed the halfway mark of a programme of upgrading or relocating its entire 27 branch network, with work on refurbishing existing branches or creating new ones due to be complete by the end of the year.

It has also recently announced plans to launch two new community hub branches, in Hawes in North Yorkshire and in Wooler in Northumberland, and will be upgrading its presence in Barnard Castle by providing a new branch for the town.

Stuart Miller, customer director of Newcastle Building Society, said: “While other financial institutions are closing branches in communities across the North East, including in Ponteland, we remain firmly committed to investing in our branch network and to playing our part in building and sustaining successful local communities.

“We’ve had lots of interest in the new branch as the refurbishment programme has progressed, and we’re hoping to share our new look with as many local people as possible at our reopening event.

“Darcey’s Dream does wonderful work across our region for children and families facing almost unimaginable challenging situations.

“We’re proud to be supporting the invaluable services it provides through our Community Fund and we’re very grateful to Petra for taking the time to be our guest of honour.”