Swansea Building Society pays tribute to the son of its founder

Board members at Swansea Building Society have paid tribute to Phillip Watkins, the son of its founder, who played an important role in the development and success of the Society. He has died at the age of 89.

Phillip is survived by his wife and their four children.

Swansea Building Society was founded by John Oliver Watkins in Swansea in 1923. Originally named the Dillwyn Permanent Building Society, the business operated solely in the geographical area of Swansea and mainly dealt with opening savings accounts and providing customers with mortgages for their homes. It changed its name to Swansea Building Society in 1984.

John’s son Phillip worked for the Society between 1988 and 2000 becoming a Director and later the Chairman. Prior to this he had watched it grow from a very small three-person operation connected to a single estate agents office in Swansea to a much larger and more ambitious stand-alone business in its own right.

He also witnessed the aftermath of the original premises being bombed three times during the Blitz. “They rescued whatever papers they could find and carried on the business. It was a relatively small operation at that time, so it was not too difficult to rebuild the Society’s hand-written records,” Phillip said, speaking at the Society’s AGM in 2015 and recalling the history of the Society.

He also praised what the Society had achieved: “It is wonderful that the business has expanded so much and done so well, especially since the financial services market has become increasingly complex and more professional. Personal face-to-face service has changed dramatically over the years and being able still to offer valued customer service is what sets the Swansea Building Society apart. It has not forgotten its roots,” he said.

Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, said: “I have known Phillip both in a personal and business capacity for over 30 years. The family were well known and highly regarded in South Wales business circles through their involvement in both Swansea Building Society and their own family company.

“As well as this, Phillip was an eminent Chartered Surveyor well-respected throughout South Wales and for many years a senior partner in estate agency and professional services firm Jno Oliver Watkins & Sons. He was involved both locally and nationally with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors where he was elected as its national President in its centenary year. Phillip was also President of Swansea Bay Business Club between 1986 – 1991.

“Phillip will be sadly missed by everyone at Swansea Building Society and our thoughts go to his wife and the family.”

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