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Swansea Building Society plants 100 trees to mark centenary

Staff from Swansea Building Society plant 100 trees at Penllergare Valley Woods to celebrate centenary

Swansea Building Society has planted 100 trees at the historic Penllergare Valley Woods estate, as part of its 100th anniversary celebrations.

The Society, with branch offices in Mumbles, Swansea, Carmarthen and Cowbridge, planted the trees on Monday, March 20. The event saw 11 Society members, including Finance Director, Nathan Griffiths; Compliance and Risk Director, Catherine Griffiths; and Head of IT, Nick Longar, join with volunteers from the Penllergare Trust to plant the saplings on the estate.

The 100 trees planted by Swansea Building Society included sessile oak, rowan and hazel to further increase biodiversity and support wildlife in the valley.

The Penllergare Trust – a registered charity – was formed in 2000 by local volunteers to maintain, restore and conserve the historic and environmentally significant Penllergare Valley Woods. The site covers 275 acres of rich biodiverse habitats that connects the ecologically significant Gower to the rest of Wales and provides a green lung in the northwest of Swansea.

The woods are cared for by a team of over 100 local volunteers alongside a small staff team, with volunteers outstanding service recognised nationally in 2016 through The Queens Award for Voluntary Service. In addition, it is supported by a very active Friends of Penllergare organisation, which continues to raise money through subscriptions and other fund-raising activities.

The estate provides a vital green open space for local communities with over 120,000 visitors a year and holds the green flag award along with many other accolades and endorsements.

The tree planting event is just one of many community initiatives Swansea Building Society has planned for its centenary year.

The largest of the Society’s centenary initiatives will see it donate £100,000 to local charities. Most of the funds will be divided between three main charitable causes – with the first of these being announced as the sponsorship of the DofE Wales Gower Walk Challenge, which will take place along the South Gower coast in July this year. However, out of this £100,000 pot, £15,000 will also remain for the Society’s Swansea, Carmarthen, and Cowbridge branches to donate to charities related directly to their local communities.

Other Society initiatives during 2023 are set to include: 100 days of volunteering, where the Society will encourage its staff to volunteer on local projects; and a 100-mile fundraising trek, which will be broken up over a nominated timescale across various locations in South Wales, with the funds raised going to the Society’s official staff charity.

Swansea Building Society was founded as a mutual Building Society in February 1923. The Society’s principal objective has always been the provision of loans secured on residential property for the use of customers – particularly in the South Wales area. These loans are funded by personal savings deposited in a variety of savings accounts offered by the Society. The Society is one of only three remaining mutual Building Societies in Wales and the only Building Society or Bank with its headquarters in West Wales.

Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, said:

“It’s wonderful to be able to make this donation of 100 trees to the Penllergare Valley Woods estate. The site was chosen locally because though we have branches throughout South Wales, our roots remain firmly in Swansea. It also has great significance for the area in terms of history, biodiversity and conservation, and is enjoyed by more than 120,000 visitors every year, so we hope these trees will be nurtured and enjoyed for generations to come.

“As well as the trees providing a boost to the local ecology, they are also a beautiful and long-lasting way of capturing carbon and reducing CO2 in the atmosphere. This means that as well as helping the estate they will be doing their bit towards tackling climate change.”

Lee Turner, General Manager of The Penllergare Trust, added:

“The Trust is very honoured that Swansea Building Society has chosen to celebrate their 100th anniversary by planting a hundred trees here at Penllergare. The trees planted are not only an investment in the future of Penllergare Valley Woods but also an investment for all of our futures combating climate change. The support from Swansea Building Society underlines their commitment both locally and globally!”