Scottish credit union pioneers led the way

I can’t let it pass without pointing out how much the English and Welsh credit unions owe the Scottish part of the movement. Without some of the most enterprising and dedicated volunteers and workers, from Scotland, the British movement would be in a very bad place. I’ve been around in the movement for over 30 years and I’m fortunate to have worked with some of these volunteer campaigners. So if I never said thank you to early pioneers such as Helen Conboy, who spent months dragging English credit unions up to speed; I say it now, thanks Helen. Who could not be influenced by the vision and passion of Rose Dorman (Dalmuir CU), the wisdom and knowledge of John Lebrocq (Scottish Police CU) and the tenacity and sense of purpose from John Makin (Transport CU)? They all played a big part in shaping how I feel about credit unions today. Tireless volunteers such as Charles Sim (Scotwest CU) and leadership from Ronnie Hobley (Glasgow CU) will never be forgotten. The advice I have had from many north of the border and the diplomacy and kindness from Alex Spence (Capital CU) along with the co-operative values from Mary Henderson and Angela Hampson ( both from Glasgow CU); the friendship and encouragement from Tony Crowter (Value CU). Oh yes, I can hear some claiming that the Scots can be testing and appear challenging; but I now realise that was part of the founding of a resilient and strong movement. Many successful credit unions are based in Scotland and that success has been shared freely throughout the UK by the Scots. I’m certain I will have forgotten someone, who has helped and encouraged me, and I didn’t set out to make this a ‘Who’s who’ of successful Scottish credit union volunteers, but the thought of the entire movement being severed as a result of Scottish independence is a sad one. I respect the views and wishes of the Scottish electorate but I hope we manage to find a way of not severing our Scottish credit union friends and mentors.  

Chris Smith, Director, Co-operative Credit Union

April 2014

Rose Dorman-1 Rose Dorman work began in her home town of Dalmuir, where she founded Dalmuir Credit Union, now the largest community credit union in the UK. Seeing credit unions as a means for eliminating poverty, she devoted her life to the cause of providing access where there was none. She held positions at the local, regional and national levels, and from 1995 to 1998 she represented the Association of British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL) on the World Council of Credit Unions’ board of directors. In recognition of her dedication, she was awarded a MBE. Rose died in 2006.