Newtownbutler Credit Union will celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary this weekend.

Formed by a core group of 22 people on May 5, 1993, the Credit Union has grown from an initial membership of 165 with an £11,000 loan book, to 1,270 members and a loan book of £1.7 million.
Chairman Eamon Woods reflects on the organisation’s early days, outlining that, after six months of studying the Northern Ireland Credit Union order, under the watchful eye of The Irish League of Credit Unions, the credit union held its first board meeting on May 12, 1993 in the old community centre in Newtownbutler.
Members were mentored and supervised by Jack Gorman, a League member and Field Officer. Their tutors were the late Peter McAloon of Enniskillen Credit Union and Alfie Montgomery of Lisnaskea Credit Union. Before they were allowed to proceed to registration, the study group underwent a rigorous examination to establish that they were conversant with the Credit Union Order and capable of effectively running the co-operative. Some of the study group also received detailed training on how to operate the accounting element of Credit Union.
Subsequently, a Board of Directors consisting of nine of the study group was elected. A supervisory committee of three people was also elected. Most of the remaining group members remained part of the team and made valuable contributions, serving on various committees and working as tellers down through the years.
“The more mature members will remember making their way up the cold concrete stairs in the old community centre on a Thursday night. All transactions took place here between the hours of 7pm and 9.30 pm – the only opening times in those days. Mary Fitzpatrick would bring in the tea and buns for the volunteers on duty. That was always a welcome refreshment after several hours of manual calculating when the brain would be ready for burnout!” said Mr. Woods.
He recalled that in the early days there was a limit on shareholding of £750 and loans were a maximum of £250 plus savings.
“Today we have shareholding of £2.27 million and a loan book of 1.74 million within a membership of 1,270. The junior membership stands at 293 with accumulated savings of 215,600,” he said.
In 1994 the building on the corner of High Street and Main Street was purchased at a cost of £23,500. Following extensive renovation, the new modern office was opened for business in 2000 and has served its purpose adequately to the present day.
“The arrival of the computer system was a welcome investment and left life so much easier for all involved in the running of the organisation,” said Mr. Woods.
He believes “a Credit Union is a great asset to any community”, adding: “It is a financial co-operative run on a voluntary basis by a small percentage of the membership.”
The lack of volunteers is a concern for Mr. Woods, who said: “There is always need for new blood to get involved.”
To celebrate its anniversary, Newtownbutler Credit Union is running 25 draws of £25 and anyone who carries out a transaction during this week will be entered in the draw which runs until the end of this week.
Mr. Woods concluded: “The Board of Directors and Supervisors would like to thank all the members who have contributed to the success of the co-operative over the past 25 years.”