On February 24, Bandon Credit Union launched a Programme of Events to celebrate its 50th anniversary to a packed room of well-wishers. Set up by a group of visionaries in 1964, the Credit Union was to serve the community of Bandon, helping individuals and clubs. Something it is still doing today.
Chairman John McCarthy welcomed all in attendance and began by looking back on the motivations and achievements of the founders of the Credit Union. Whilst too many to mention individually, a reception for the founders/founder families, former Directors, volunteers and staff will take place in the credit union premises on May 24 coming.
John spoke on how the Credit Union movement now stands at a crossroads. Having stabilised following the economic crisis, the movement is now looking to the future, focusing on prudent lending, enhancing services using technology based platforms and again becoming the financial services provider of choice for the community of Bandon
While acknowledging that good governance and regulation is vitally important, John commented that the government response to the financial crisis, and in particular the credit union sector, is disproportionate, and called on the public representatives present on the night to address these issues and enable credit unions to conduct their business successfully and responsibly.
Engaging with the community has always been the mission of Bandon Credit Union and John outlined some of the many activities it is involved in that demonstrate this, such as the eCentre, which the credit union established in surplus office space on its premises, in conjunction with Bandon Chamber of Commerce and Cork County Council. Further demonstrating commitment to Bandon, Chris Smith, General Manager of the credit union, presented a cheque for €5,000 to Padraig Hamilton, manager of Hamilton High School, to kick off the school’s fundraising drive for the building of five new classrooms. Supporting education is a top priority for the credit union and the anniversary programme includes an Education Day in March when there will be an official announcement of a new Scholarship Scheme, as well as information on a new Education Loan Package to be offered to third level students.
Always willing to meet and speak to members, Bandon credit union is open to lending where other institutions might not be. Lending is critical to the credit union’s success and they are highly motivated lenders, as General Manager Chris Smith, who was next to the podium, explained.
Launching three new loan packages, exclusive to Bandon Credit Union, Chris expounded the benefits of borrowing from a credit union, including interest rates which in some cases were half those offered by the four ‘pillar’ banks. The credit union also pays insurance on member’s loans so that in the event of a borrower’s death, the family were not further burdened with unpaid debt. This was in addition to the €1,300 paid to all families on the death of a member to help with funeral expenses.
Bandon Credit Union is actively seeking new members and invites the people of Bandon and surrounding areas to drop in, speak to a staff member and find out how the credit union offers much more than any other financial institution.
John then outlined details of other events such as the Community Open Day in June, the exhibition of photos/records and memorabilia in September in conjunction with the Bandon Historical Society, the entrepreneurship forum in November and in conjunction with Bandon Summerfest, a comedy club in July.
Finally John thanked all those that had attended and said he looked forward the seeing all of them more frequently in both the Bandon and Innishannon branches in the weeks and months ahead.