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Credit crunch

You are in: Wear > Credit crunch > Northern Rocked

Doreen and Denis Shannon from Sunderland

In the kitchen they can't now replace

Northern Rocked

Denis and Doreen Shannon, from Sunderland, had shares in Northern Rock worth £60,000. The crisis at the bank, and the resulting effect on share price, has left them with a reduced pension. And they're not happy.

Denis Shannon, an IT systems analyst at Northern Rock, retired early six months before the crisis happened.

Fourteen percent of his retirement income was to come from his shares, shares which have now been taken into public ownership.

Like many others in the same situation, he'll be compensated. But by how much remains to be seen.

Denis says it wasn't until the weekend following the announcement and the run on the bank that they realised the seriousness of the situation.

Mike Parr with Denis and Doreen

Mike Parr with Denis and Doreen

It's the insecurity that worries Doreen: "The shares represented a safety net, you know. It was a lump sum of money, you could sell them at a time of need, on a rainy day. Well now when a rainy day comes we haven't got the shares to sell."

Denis thinks it's taken the last year to get over the shock: "It still hurts to lose a lot of money, you know, financial loss is still painful. It's still a loss. And I think we've only just started to get over it really, sort of re-adjust and get used to the idea that that money's no longer there."

They're also concerned for friends at Northern Rock. Denis estimates half of his former colleagues have lost their jobs. Some have lost shares as well as their jobs.

Sharing the pain

Denis and Doreen have lost £60,000 of shares which Denis doesn't see getting back, despite the shareholders' action group's attempts to get compensation from the government.

They think the local economy will suffer, not just because of the jobs that were lost but because of the ones that were going to be created.

Doreen says: "They were the largest private sector employer in the north east so naturally it was worrying for us as staunch northerners, our concern for our region, and the regional economy."

Denis blames the Bank of England for what he calls "dithering" over the loan. He can't understand what he's been hearing and reading, that other banks have been lent more than Northern Rock without ending up nationalised.

He says: "The north east suffered badly because of a steep learning curve that the government and the authorities had to go through. Well, we haven't recovered, I don't know if we will recover."

One of the queues outside Northern Rock branches in September 2007 Photo: Peter Macdiarmid /Getty Images

One of the September 2007 queues

Join the queue

When seemingly the world and his wife started queuing up to withdraw money from the bank, Doreen and Denis joined them.

The difference was they were putting money in...and making sure people in the queue knew it.

Doreen was, and is, angry: "I felt that the media were being the puppets of something that was being orchestrated by people that were gaining from the situation...Lots of people sold their shares short, so they gained.

"Other banks - where did the money go from the people that were in the queues? They went to other banks. So other banks were propped up during the credit crunch by the money that came out of Northern Rock."

She understands why people might not think past their own needs: "I can understand the pensioners in the queue feeling insecure and therefore wanting to protect their interests, their little nest eggs.

"But Dennis and I, call us altruistic, whatever you want to call us, altruistic or foolish, but we did have wider interests, we did care for Northern Rock.

"This was a world-wide crisis that was hitting our country and the scapegoats were Northern Rock and the people of the north east that were being sacrificed to the benefit of others."

last updated: 12/09/2008 at 14:48
created: 11/09/2008

You are in: Wear > Credit crunch > Northern Rocked



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