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Heroes all!

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by R, Andrew Cummings 18.APR.08

In the beginning

The Kingstown Co-operative Credit Union (K.C.C.U), the oldest surviving Credit Union in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, first opened its doors on the 12th April 1958 with a share capital of $253.98 and 53 members.

It was the late Bro. Thomas M. Saunders whose pioneering drive and steely focus on co-operatives found fertile ground among some of the tailors of Kingstown namely Bros. Jerome Burke Sr.; Reynold Rose; Bertram Arthur and Leroy Adams.{{more}} Brother Saunders’ missionary zeal heated up by an unfailing sense of social responsibility and financial wisdom became the vehicle which carried the message “build yourself while building others” to every village and town throughout Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Despair

From the K.C.C.U’s standpoint the message almost died in 1984 when it was about to be liquidated and become extinct. Through an unbreakable will, fierce determination and far-reaching vision, the celebrated group of nine (9) came to K.C.C.U’s rescue. The names of Maurice “Sketch” Edwards’; Jerome Burke Jr., Jean Walker; Sharon Fairbairne; Ralby Hadaway; Joseph Duncan; Cornelia Durham; Cadman Lewis (now deceased) and Sharon Browne will forever be remembered with pride and honour for transforming K.C.C.U from “shades of night to plains of light”.

Transformation

Today, after fifty (50) years K.C.C.U boasts of 11.927 members and total assets of 50 million ECC and counting. It is widely acclaimed as a “people centered, customer focused organisation which continuously transforms the lives of its members serving as a co-operative vehicle for social and economic growth as well as holistic development throughout Saint Vincent and the Grenadines”.

Consistently strong executives aided by top-flight functional committees have strengthened K.C.C.U’s operations to a point where confidence and trust are reposed in great measure. Indeed, its imposing multi storied edifice (near to the Kingstown Seventh Day Adventist Church) is a reminder of its past struggles whilst showcasing its present financial muscle. Highly impressed by its service and stability, I am joining up today.

A Beacon of Democracy

At the core of the Co-operative movement is the practice of Democracy whose wholesome fresh air constantly purifies. Throughout the Caribbean there are about 342 co-operatives many of which are Credit Unions. Others are in the form of friendly societies, etc.

No doubt the millions who subscribe to the co-operative ideals in the Caribbean are prominent and vocal among the many who keep the torch of Democracy alive and well in our region. Unlike so many countries in the world, we in the English speaking Caribbean can vaunt of a proud platform of democracy over the decades (Grenada being the sole exception from 1979 – 1983). We must be a thankful people!

Co-operatives in general and Thomas Mowbray Saunders, in particular, must be part of our very small galaxy of heroes impersonal and personal. Let’s continue to spread the message far and wide, now and always! Our way of life will be the better for it!

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