WEST BROMWICH resident and regular Bugle contributor Olive Bedworth found herself at the centre of attention last week when she was guest of honour at a relaunch of a High Street bank.
The doors of the West Bromwich branch of Lloyds opened for business at 9.30 sharp, to reveal long-term customer Olive with scissors in hand, about to cut the ribbon and usher in a new phase in the life of one of the country’s oldest banks.
Founded in Birmingham’s Dale End in 1765, Lloyd’s first branch outside the city was in Oldbury, but throughout the nineteenth century the bank spread widely, swallowing up smaller banks along the way to become one of the so-called ‘Big Four’ by the early 1900s.
As part of recent restructuring of the banking industry, Lloyds TSB, as it had become known in the late 1990s, has once again become two separate banks.
And as the West Bromwich branch was re-christened Lloyds Bank once again, it was Olive, one of their longest-serving customers, who was invited to officially open it.
“I’ve been banking here for fifty years this coming January, I’m told,” Olive told the Bugle.
“I’m very honoured to have ben asked to do this. Everyone here is very special, their kindness and civility has been consistent down the years. There have been times when I’ve really needed their help, and they’ve always been there for me.”
Following the cutting of the ribbon, Olive was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a thank you gift. But she’d also brought an item of her own along with her, dating back almost to her first dealings with Lloyds.
It’s a small, brass money box, in the shape of a book, with the Lloyds name and familiar black horse logo on it, which Olive has had for almost fifty years.
“Banks used to give these out to encourage us to save our pennies,” said Olive, “and they could only be opened by a special key at the bank.
“They don’t do them any more, so I don’t suppose it can be opened. But it feels like there might be something still in it. Perhaps there are a few pound notes in there!”