THE PRESIDENT of the First Dorset Credit Union is anticipating a ‘bumper year’ in 2013 after reflecting on its achievements over the last 12 months.

In his New Year message Richard Thorley described 2012 as a ‘significant year in the history of the First Dorset Credit Union’ in which it made a number of major strides forward.

These include extending the common bond area to cover the whole of Dorset so anybody living or working in any part of the county can become a member of the union and gain access to its affordable loans and savings.

He also highlighted the introduction of the First Dorset Credit Union pre paid card and seeing the Christmas Club pay out a record £50,000 to members who saved over the year to ease the financial burden of Christmas.

Mr Thorley said: “We achieved a number of projects which have made us a more relevant financial service for our members and made us more attractive for non-members looking for better ways of controlling their finances.”

He added: “The above advances come on the back of very hard work by our paid staff and volunteers, to whom – on behalf of the board of directors – I offer my warmest thanks.

“We depend of on the good work of all to move the First Dorset Credit Union forward.”

Mr Thorley also expressed his delight at the MBE bestowed upon Dr Margaret Barker, from the Dorchester Poverty Action Group, in the New Year’s Honours list.

Dr Barker’s group helped set up the group by providing £500 to train the first directors of the First Dorset Credit Union steering group in 1998, allowing it to start in July 1999.

Mr Thorley said 2013 was expected to bring a number of advances including a system that will allow members to check their balances over the phone.

He said: “All these changes make the First Dorset Credit Union more attractive and more competitive with other financial institutions.

“I am confident that, as in the past, all of us will pull together and make 2013 a bumper year for the First Dorset Credit Union.”