2021 will be remembered as a year of firsts...
The first Covid-19 vaccine was administered, the Olympic Games were held without any spectators for the first time in the Games' history, England's football team reached the final of a major tournament for the first time in 55 years, and the world's first commercial passenger space flight was successfully completed.
Not to be outdone, it was also a year of firsts for Secure Trust Bank Real Estate Finance.
In June, we launched our first green loan facility to encourage, support and incentivise sustainable property investment and development.
The Greener Homes Scheme offered favourable interest rates to borrowers investing in new green residential portfolios or upgrading existing properties to make them more energy efficient.
The scheme proved extremely popular with property investors, and in October we completed the first deal under the scheme with White Property Holdings Ltd, which secured a £1.14m investment loan against a development of 12 new homes in Henley in Arden.
The popularity of the Greener Homes Scheme - we loaned in excess of £100 million - demonstrates the willingness of residential property investors and developers to adopt more sustainable practices and strategies, which as a business we 100 per cent support.
Last year also saw the Real Estate Finance team report an historic financial first in its year end results. On the back of a strong performance, at the end of December 2020, revenues increased by 10.4% to £54m and, for the first time in REF's history, its balance sheet exceeded £1 billion, with year-on-year growth of 9.3%.
This was due to the proactive steps taken by the REF team to help and support customers during the pandemic, including covenant amendments/waivers, facility extensions, capital and interest payment holidays, as well as general advice and guidance. And while other banks stopped lending, REF continued to lend on residential investment and development projects, honouring loans agreed with customers pre-pandemic.
In addition to supporting customers, supporting employees was a key focus in 2021. As part of this commitment, we launched the Real Estate Finance Academy, a personal development initiative to enable and encourage career progression within the business.
Graham Smith, who applied for the scheme to support his career progression from assistant relationship manager to senior assistant relationship manager, and Fumi Abbey, who is training to become an assistant credit operations manager, are the Academy's first successful applicants and will receive a blend of training, on the job learning and mentoring from senior members of the REF team.
Finally, 2021 saw the REF team shortlisted in the Financier of the Year category at the Property Week Resi Awards for the first time, and whilst we didn't win, it was good to make the final of these prestigious industry awards. The shortlisting is also recognition of the hard work and effort put in by the team over the past 12 months.
So, to all our customers and contacts, we look forward to working with you in 2022.