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First Rate celebrates 35 years


15 Jun 17

First Rate Credit Union is celebrating 35 years of serving BAE Systems staff and their families.

The Warton-based credit union was founded on 15 June 1982 by shop-floor workers at the BAE Systems site, and has developed over the years into one of the country’s largest and fastest growing credit unions.

Three of the original volunteers have remained with First Rate to this day, including Office Manager Les Walker (pictured with the credit union’s Chair Martin Newton).

First Rate now serves more than 4,000 members and has over £10 million in assets. Last year’s dividend to savers of 4% was one of the highest in the country and comfortably outstripped the best comparable rates from banks and building societies. The credit union also rewarded its borrowers with a 4% rebate on loan interest paid.

Highlights over its 35 year history include achieving official recognition and payroll deduction facilities with BAE Systems, opening a branch in Barrow-in-Furness in premises shared with Barrow and District Credit Union, and upgrading its software. Future plans include appointing a CEO, launching a new website and growing its membership further within BAE Systems.

First Rate’s Training Manager Steve Cameron said: "BAE Systems have helped us greatly since they formally recognised us and now highlight us in their employee benefits. Much of our success can be attributed to our members, and the efforts of volunteers and staff.

“We have also had remarkable support from ABCUL. The monthly Forum meetings are a great way to exchange information and offer support. We are also grateful to our software supplier, Kesho. It's been a great 35 years and we look forward to many more, as part of the credit union movement."

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