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Tribute to Mr Ormond Cyril Forde

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Tue Apr 16, 2013

THIS lecture series is dedicated to the memory of Mr Ormond Cyril Forde. Mr Forde was a pioneer in the financial development of St Vincent and the Grenadines. He started several financial institutions. He was a foundation member of a Friendly Society that was registered in 1937 and which offered sickness and death benefits.{{more}} That Friendly Society is still around today and is now known as the Employees Benevolent Association. It has weekly dues of about 35 cents per member and a death benefit of $1,500.00. The Employees Benevolent Association introduced a Scholarship Award in 1950 and the Honourable René Baptiste, Speaker of the OECS Assembly, became a beneficiary of that Award in 1963. Ms Baptiste, quite appropriately then, would make a presentation later in this series on “The Laws Governing Financial Institutions in St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

O. C. Forde worked for a while as solicitor’s clerk in the law Chambers of his brother O. W. Forde. He left that post and started the Building and Loan Association on July 4, 1941. He was known for his careful attention to detail and meticulous record keeping. He adhered to good financial management principles and supervised consistent growth at that institution for a number of years. O. C. Forde was not finished after the establishment of the Employees Benevolent Association and the St Vincent Building and Loan Association. He, along with a group of merchants, legislative members and friends, launched the St Vincent Cooperative Bank Ltd in 1944. This bank, which is commonly referred to as “Forde Bank” or “Penny Bank” for well-known reasons, was incorporated on October 18, 1944 and officially opened for business on February 1, 1945. It was the second fully locally owned and operated bank.

Mr Forde was the founder and the first manager of the St Vincent Cooperative Bank Ltd. He remained manager until he was succeeded by his son, Mr Kenneth Forde, who took up office in 1974. O. C. Forde then became the president of the bank and held that post up to the time of his death. Kenneth Forde picked up where his father left off and successfully managed the growth of the bank for over 30 years, until he retired in 2007. Mrs Laverne Velox is the bank’s current manager.

There was a time when Building and Loan and the Penny Bank shared the same office space downstairs a building that was across the road from the old Treasury Department office. O. W. Forde’s law Chambers was upstairs. Building and Loan and Penny Bank moved out of that building together in the 1950s and continued to share office space at the site of Building and Loan’s current headquarters, until Penny Bank acquired and moved into a middle street corner property in 1974, when Kenneth Forde was its manager.

O. C. Forde was described in a statement by the bank as “a visionary who saw an opportunity in the 1940’s to service the credit needs of the majority of Vincentians who at that time faced difficulties in obtaining loans and banking services from the international banks operating in St Vincent and the Grenadines.” The statement went on to say that “Only a privileged few qualified for such services while a large market existed for the banking needs of the many. The St.

Vincent Cooperative Bank was therefore created to meet the needs of the many and the niche filled by the Bank became so large over time that the Bank now has more savings accounts than any other bank in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.” Forde Bank benefits from inter-generational family loyalties.

Mr Forde was able to attract outstanding and well-known Vincentian professionals to serve as directors, and in other capacities, for the institutions he created. His business associates included the late Honourable Milton Cato and the late Mr Rudolph Baynes.

Recent developments have highlighted the need for all of us to help ensure that our financial institutions are properly managed, and so we turn to Mr O. C. Forde for inspiration. Mr Forde was born on September 15, 1908 and died on December 21, 1983 when he was 75 years old. We pay tribute to him tonight. May he be remembered during the course of this lecture series and after this series is done, for his matchless work in the financial services sector of SVG.

(This tribute was delivered by attorney-at-law Mandela Campbell on the opening night of the O.C. Forde Memorial Lecture Series at the Peace Memorial Hall).

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