Historic Sheffield savings organisation will be managed from Manchester after merger

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A historic Sheffield savings society has agreed to a merger which will see its £45m assets managed in Manchester.

Druids Sheffield Friendly Society was established in 1858 to provide savings schemes that paid out in times of need.

Today it still has 56,000 members and offers tax-free savings plans including ISAs.

Members last week voted ‘overwhelmingly’ for a transfer to Manchester-based Oddfellows Friendly Society. It will then have assets of more than £460m and 320,000 members.

Oddfellows chief executive Jane Nelson, said the merger - its fourth in eight years - was due to growing regulatory pressure.

She added: “Joining forces gives us the competitive scale to continue to flourish and it means we’re better able to meet members’ needs.”

Paul Protheroe, chief executive of the Druids, said it would keep its historic name.

He added: “We considered a number of societies and chose the Oddfellows because of their financial strength, their experience of similar transfers, their straightforward and open approach and their clear focus on serving members.”

The deal is set to complete on April 30, when administration will transfer to operations in Manchester and Liverpool.

Druids is a mutual friendly society owned and run by members with profits ploughed back into the business.

The name originated from the term given to the wise man of a community - and has no link with the religion whose members wear white cloaks and gather at Stonehenge during the summer solstice.

The Society’s roots go back to the industrial revolution when there was no welfare state and societies were set up communities.

‘Order of Druids’ lodges were common in cities.