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Poet Nick Matthew's ode to staff at Nationwide Building Society in Sandwich

By Eleanor Perkins


Nationwide member Nick Matthews was so grateful for the help and support he received from his local branch that he was inspired to put it down on paper - in a poem.

Sitting in his dining room and looking out to an idyllic view of trees and St George’s Church he celebrated the simple delight at being able to speak to “real human beings” rather than banking online.

For Nick, 65, it is more than just a convenience - it is essential.

The retired teacher, has little use of his hands and arms due to Post Polio Syndrome so he waxes lyrical about the Short Street branch’s automatic door which “opens with ease”, and the staff who offer “good help” and “really just know everything.”

Staff at Nationwide in Sandwich with poet Nick Matthews
Staff at Nationwide in Sandwich with poet Nick Matthews

Nick said: “I come here because they’re genuinely helpful and like many people I prefer human beings.

“I can’t hold a pen, but I can sign my name because they’ve provided me with a signature stamp. I couldn’t believe it!

“They’ve even come round and got my wallet out of my bag before. They’re just delightful.”

The father of two has written about 600 poems with two books published - Twenty One Thousand Revolutions and When Will We Ever Learn? - and a third on its way.

Knowing that her customer was a poet, it was a tongue in cheek suggestion by customer representative Georgina that prompted Nick to put pen to paper.

He said: “A lot of older people feel insecure about computers. They don’t know whether something has happened or whether something has transferred, or even if it’s safe.

“It took me longer than my other poems. They usually only take about half an hour. But it all just came to me.”

Nationwide's Georgina with Nick Matthews
Nationwide's Georgina with Nick Matthews

Nick lives in New Romney Place with his wife, Joy, 63. He is a retired teacher of English and art and history at Sandwich Technology School, where he also ran the library and was a year head.

Two years ago, he developed Post Polio Syndrome, a result of polio in his leg when he was 11 months old. Having had the muscle in his leg removed as a youngster, he has now lost the muscles in his arms and hands.

He said: “I was very lucky. They removed the muscle in my leg and I had a caliper until I was seven, then I climbed trees and road a bicycle like all the others. I’ve since sailed yachts and climbed mountains.”

He writes using a laptop but also enjoys photography and watercolour painting.

Nick delivered the poem to the branch last month.

Nick's Nationwide ode
Nick's Nationwide ode

Georgina, who has worked there for two years but for the building society for 18 years, said: “Staff loved it. It really touched on everything we do here and how we feel about our customers.

“Here in Sandwich, we’ve got a different customer base compared to our main towns. We have a higher proportion of older people and we understand that they didn’t have computers when they were growing up.

“We do offer the latest technology but we also still have people that you can talk to. We’re not a bank, we’re a building society. We’re here to stay and we want to help.”

For others with disabilities, the building society offers documents in large print, braille statements, pen grips, magnifying tools and more.

She added: “It’s so nice to get to know our local people and to get to know about their lives and their families. That’s what I love about this job. It’s the personal touch.”

Nationwide’s head office has framed the poem and it now takes pride of place on the branch’s counter.

Nick, who pops in to the branch every couple of weeks, said: “I am flattered.”

Nationwide's Sandwich branch is open six days a week, from 9am until 4.30pm on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, from 9.30am until 4.30pm on Tuesdays, and 9am until noon on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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