The Ladysmith & District Credit Union (LDCU) is celebrating its 75 years on May 17, with cake and a free copy of the heritage book “Our Community, Our Credit Union, (Value: $45). The event follows their AGM on May 14, at 6:30 pm, at the Ladysmith Eagles Hall.
LDCU was founded on May 18, 1944, with charter 116 and a common bond of residents of Ladysmith, BC north to the Nanaimo River and south to Newcastle district boundary. Many prominent people in the modern history of British Columbia were involved with the founding of the Credit Union. They included Sam Guthrie, a social reformer, and Rod Glen, a giant in the credit union movement.
The founding board of directors included women, one of whom was elected president in 1947 – becoming the first woman to lead a Credit Union.
Rob Johnson holds account no. 3, a legacy from his father who was one of the founding members. Johnson is proud not only of its long history but “it reinvests profit back into the community.”
Duck Paterson one of Ladysmith’s most active volunteers and Town Councillor likens the credit union to a “service club.”
Indeed, the list of festivals, events and projects that the credit union supports would fill pages.
Their sponsorship reaches far back with the first recorded event being a social evening of card games and tea in 1947.
Fast forward 70 years and there is that same involvement in the community from supporting events such as Arts on the Avenue Council, local theatre, Christmas Hamper, Ladysmith Ambassador, amphitheatre, water spray park, skateboard park and the beloved fireworks at the Festival of Lights and Ladysmith Days.
In addition they gift graduating students from Ladysmith secondary school $13,000 in bursaries every year.
“They are always there for our community,” says Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone.
Without the quiet support of the credit union many projects would never have gotten off the ground. “Let’s help each other and survive by helping each other. That’s been a part of Ladysmith history right from the start,” says Ed Nicholson of the LDHS. The credit union was instrumental in the growth of the community museum, donating free use of the building.
Along with its community service and history, there is also a spirit of independence. LDCU is one of a very few independent credit unions where decisions are made by the community for the community. “It’s so important to this community to keep it independent,” says Brian Childs, past president.
Elaine Layman who is president of the board is also proud of LDCU and CEO John de Leeuw’s commitment to education from supporting education initiatives in the community as well as within the credit union. “We are always being encouraged to take courses.”
From it’s beginnings of $12,000, doing transactions over a kitchen table to today, with its $180 million in assets, and the opening of their first branch at Oyster Bay, the future looks bright for this community and its credit union.