Championing our people

We're celebrating the people who make us who we are, by sharing their stories.

Championing our people and their stories

We think it’s important to share real stories of the people and businesses that make up our community, from our customers and colleagues to community groups, and the places and spaces they rely on. These people and their stories make us who we are.

To begin with, we’re shining a light on Simon, one of our commercial underwriters, who runs Saving Saints Rescue. Take a look below and please keep an eye out for more inspiring stories appearing here soon.

Best paws forward

Simon and his wife Rachel run Saving Saints Rescue from their home in Chorley. When customers come to us for a mortgage, they might have someone like Simon helping to decide whether we can help them get their foot on the ladder. Because whether it’s feet on ladders or paws on the ground, we know that Simon has everyone’s best interests at heart.

Simon is a commercial underwriter. He joined The Cumberland in 2021 and works from his home in Chorley. Much of his spare time is dedicated to a charity rescuing giant-breed dogs from all around the world and finding them loving homes in the UK.

Simon is trustee and treasurer of Saving Saints Rescue, and his wife Rachel is a trustee and chair. The charity specialises in helping dogs like St. Bernards, Newfoundlands and Romanian Shepherds. In some cases, owners simply can't keep them, but many have been neglected, abused or left in 'kill shelters' and some come from the Chinese meat trade.

In 2021, Saving Saints rescued 147 dogs from around the world and from within the UK.

Simon says, "We have an extensive network abroad. We have several people in Eastern Europe who refer dogs to us directly.

"In places like Romania, Serbia and Lithuania people tend to have large breed dogs and use them to guard their houses and the animals on their farms because there are predators like wolves and lynx. If they are no longer wanted, there is no rescue system there so if they don't want a dog you take it to the local kill shelter. There's one in each area.

"Our volunteers will go along and rescue the dogs from the shelter and house them and make contact and ask if we can take them and board them and fund the costs of transporting to the UK. Their work is voluntary. We have contacts all over the world, including in mainland Europe, Spain, Germany, Portugal and also in Dubai and Egypt. And increasingly now in China."

Rescuing dogs from China is difficult, costing the charity up to £2,500 per dog.

But Simon says: "People can see they are going to the meat trade and donate for that. Every one of those dogs takes a massive effort to us to rescue. In China it's a status issue, the bigger the dog the more expensive the meat. The breeder in China will breed a litter of eight or nine and people will buy four or five. They go to their owners and the rest go to the meat trade and will be put in cages in street markets."

The charity has eight volunteers in the UK and rescued dogs are first housed in kennels in Skegness, where they are assessed before rehoming.

"It is very upsetting when you see the condition some of them are in," says Simon. "At the end of the day, the thing that motivates you is seeing when new owners send you photos a few months later and they are different dogs - they come back with a lot of lovely photos showing the dog running round the garden with their children.

"There is the odd one or two that don't work out. Sometimes people realise it isn't for them."

Simon and Rachel own four St. Bernards are all rescued from Europe and the UK.

"We actually run the charity on a shoe-string - £25,000 per year. We take nothing out of it. We pay for kennel fees and transporting dogs from abroad," says Simon. "Working with the charity gives me a sense of satisfaction - I'm giving something back to the community."

More stories coming soon