Camilla lauds credit unions... and admits she's a member
The Duchess of Cornwall has hailed the credit union movement for saving people from the hands of loan sharks during her visit to an award-winning branch in Belfast.
You might not expect the wife of the heir to the throne to be a member of her local credit union, but the Duchess of Cornwall has been a proud advocate of the movement for many years.
She told young savers in the Ballyhackamore Credit Union that she had an account of her own - she belongs to the London Mutual Credit Union. Camilla chatted with staff and members of the east Belfast lender before unveiling a plaque to commemorate her visit.
"I think it's so important people know about it," she said of the concept. "When I came on board I knew absolutely nothing about it - I'm learning slowly.
"I have also talked to a lot of people who have literally been in dire straits, in the hands of loan sharks." She commended the work of the Ballyhackamore staff in assisting those in need over the last 48 years.
"I can see talking to people here how many people you have helped," she said. "I think you do a wonderful job."
Jordan Joy (22), from the Braniel area of east Belfast, had earlier encouraged the duchess to open her own account. "I've got one," she replied with a laugh. Camilla met with representatives from the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU), the Ulster Federation of Credit Unions, plus staff, volunteers and members of Ballyhackamore Credit Union.
Brian McCrory, president of the ILCU, told the Belfast Telegraph it was an honour to meet the Duchess. He said that her promotion of the credit union model reinforces the vital role it plays in supporting members, by providing not for profit, local and accessible financial services.
"I became aware of her proactive involvement in the credit union movement and promoting its development a number of years ago," he said.
"She has gone out of her way to showcase the model in Scotland, England and Wales."