A DORCHESTER credit union has cashed in on its success as it celebrated reaching the milestone of over 2,500 active members and £1m in savings.

Mayor of Dorchester Peter Mann visited the head office of First Dorset Credit Union to mark the occasion and he praised the work its dedicated volunteers undertake for local people.

He said: “I was one of the early members of the credit union and this is a huge achievement for everyone, including the volunteers who have put in a lot of effort to make this successful.”

The union initially started with a desk in Dorchester United Church and since then has expanded to have 15 branches across Dorset including in Weymouth, Portland, Bridport and Lyme Regis.

Now in its 16th year, the savings and loans co-operative has over 120 trained volunteers who help thousands of Dorset residents with their money.

Customers can borrow up to £7,500 through low-cost loans, and are encouraged to save regularly.

Their customers are beaming with pride at the feat too, including crossways resident Gillian Somerset, 61, who has been banking with the union since 2001. She said: “I have had a great experience of the business, they are so personable. It’s like a family bank, when you’re saving you feel as though you are giving your money to a relative to look after, that’s how much a trust them. I believe wholeheartedly in them.”

Gillian added she had never borrowed money so when she needed a loan to buy a car she had no credit history and found it difficult to secure a loan.

She said: “The credit union lent me the money though, and allowed me to decide on the repayments, which enabled me to buy the car made a huge difference to my life.”

Union president Rosemary Britten, said: “We are really pleased with this achievement, especially as most of our new members come from referrals by our existing customers which shows they trust us as a safe, ethical alternative to pay-day lenders and high street banks.” For further details about the union please visit their website or call into their branch in High East Street, Dorchester.