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Good morning and welcome to Gateshead
Home of the MetroCentre, which can proudly boast to be being the 4th largest shopping centre in the whole of the European Union.
At least until 23rd June.
Home also to the Angel of the North, Britain’s largest sculpture.
They do things big up here.
Exactly why we felt that the 2016 BSA Conference should come to the iconic Sage Gateshead.
The first time we have been here in the North-East since the BSA Annual Meeting of 1906 in Newcastle.
Gateshead, Newcastle and the whole of the North-East are a very special part of the country for me.
Not just because we have two great building societies up here in the Newcastle and the Darlington.
But because both my wife and I spent three very happy years at university just a few miles down the road at Durham.
And our elder daughter graduated from Durham last year.
Our younger daughter is just completing her second year there.
Pity our son, who has yet to make his university choice!
Download the full speech here.