STAFF from a Wales-wide building society swapped counters for countryside when they volunteered in the local community.

Give & Gain Day 2014 saw dozens of staff put their time and skills in to projects at Porthkerry Country Park, Barry, Flat Holm Island, and Nightingale House, a hostel in Cardiff.

They joined more than 13,000 people in the UK who took part in the day which was organised by Business in the Community.

Give & Gain Day is the UK's only national day of employee volunteering and is dedicated to getting thousands of employees out of the office, store or factory to volunteer in their local communities.

Steve Hughes, Principality Building Society’s group finance director, who is a board member of Business in the Community Wales, said: “Principality is passionate about the communities in which we live and work and our staff regularly get involved in local initiatives to help make a difference in their area.

“Give and Gain Day is always a great opportunity for us to join other businesses and contribute to projects all around the country. Getting out of our normal work environment and working as a team is also a great way for our employees to learn new skills that they can then bring back to our workplace. We will certainly be doing it again next year.”

A team of Principality’s branch managers got on a boat to Flat Holm Island to weather proof timber bridges and fencing, paint Fog Horn cottage, which is used for educational purposes and do some wild garden maintenance.

A team from the Society’s head office in Cardiff went to Porthkerry Country Park to move vegetation, create wildlife habitats, paint benches and do litter picks.

Rosie Sweetman, director of Business in the Community in Wales, said: "Give & Gain Day 2014 was the biggest and best yet. In Wales we had over 1,200 employees from 50 companies take part, and across the UK this number was over 13,000.

“It was great to see so many businesses committed to supporting their local communities. There is real value in volunteering, for both employers, employees and communities.

“Feedback from last year’s Give & Gain Day showed that 79% of volunteers said they developed skills as a result of participating and 97% said it was important to them that their employer supported volunteering – so volunteering helps with employee engagement, skills development and recruitment.

“Give & Gain Day is a real practical demonstration of Welsh business working as a force for good.”

Principality has contributed to a variety of similar causes in the past year, including bringing a hall back into use at Rhoose Community Centre and improving Penarth Community Centre’s gardens.