History of RHAND Credit Union

The RHAND story is one of continuous growth and achievement. Our success over the last 75 years is a testament to our strong foundation. Our longevity can be attributed to never losing sight of our goal of taking care of our members.

Here’s how our
story started:

In the early 1940s three groups of public servants met to study the history and theory of the co-operative movement. They were from the Land and Surveys Department, the Registrar’s General Department and the Health Department all situated at the Red House. Their studies led them to prepare in anticipation of the proclamation of the Credit Union Societies Ordinance in Trinidad and Tobago. The group saved money and when the ordinance was proclaimed in 1945, they were ready to take the next step.

RHAND New Head Office - 1986
Theodore Farrell
First Vice President of RHAND

On March 27th 1947, the group formally registered the Red House and Neighbouring Department Credit Union Co-operative Society Limited (RHAND). They became the 38th Credit Union in Trinidad and Tobago with 149 members and $2,635.23 in assets.

RHAND’s initial membership was made up exclusively of public service employees and their immediate families and they served this group well. Membership continued to grow until RHAND outgrew their space at The Red House. Between 1972 and 1980, RHAND moved to various locations in Port of Spain, before settling at its flagship building at 57-61 Abercromby Street.

RHAND’s membership continued to grow throughout the 1980s and 1990s as did their portfolio of development and engagement initiatives for their members. They introduced Member Skills Development, Common Entrance (now S.E.A.) Scholarships for children of members, as well as several social events and group organisations.

RHAND embarked on a journey of expansion in the late 1990s as they continued to seek their members’ best interests. In 1999 the time was right for RHAND to open its doors to the general public. To better serve their new customer base, RHAND opened branches in Tobago and in Arima in 2002 and 2005 respectively.

RHAND Head Office 1987 - 40th Anniversary
Theodore & Elsa Farrell

My father, Theodore Francis Farrell (better known as Frankie Farrell) was one of the founding fathers of RHAND Credit Union. I was born in 1945 so I was 2 years old when RHAND was registered. I have an older sister and a younger brother.

It is unclear in my recollections when I realized that he was a founding father of RHAND. He never said anything about it to his children. I joined RHAND when I was teaching at John S. Donaldson Technical Institute (not sure what year – probably in the eighties) NEVER realizing that my father was instrumental in its start, so tight-lipped was he about his exploits. I have been a member since then.

He was very much a tightwad with his money and we would go to our mother first to ask for money but she would say “ask your Father” and we would reluctantly do so. He did give us pocket money and money if we wanted to go to the cinema but always made a show of pulling out his wallet – oh so slowly as if he was unwilling to give us anything. Other than that, money was never spoken about in the family, at least not to me. He did pay for part of my University education in Canada and I remember how much I yearned to relieve him of the cost, so I worked in the summer to pay some of the expenses. My older sister won a scholarship so that was ok with him.

We lived in St James and I remember he and Mr. Niles would go around to collect shares (and possibly fix loans) and walk around with money (so safe in those days). Then they would sit in our gallery presumably to do the accounts because we children were banished from the gallery at those times. My brother remembers being quite close to Freddie Farrell (the other founding father – our uncle) and he also never mentioned anything about RHAND!

On recollecting with my brother and sister, it was quite telling that we remembered the same things – no talk about what they were doing – so they went about their good deeds very quietly and with little fanfare! Helping others to help themselves.

– Patricia (Farrell) Frederick

Patricia (Farrell) Frederick - 2021

The idea of establishing a Credit Union in Trinidad and Tobago for Government workers was born in Toronto, Canada by my father, Frederick Earnest Travers Farrell, while he was on a scholarship at the University of Toronto, around 1944 or ’45. At this time credit unionism was a new idea that was working successfully in Canada. Companies investing in the idea were reporting strong growth and lots of worker participation. Freddie, as he was called, looking at it first-hand, realized the value that this service could have for the working class people of Trinidad and began planning how it could be presented and developed in his home country. Holding on to his beliefs, determined to try to make a difference, he studied the booming business, took note of its disciplines and started to put together a plan.

Daddy graduated top of his Canadian class, was offered several interesting positions abroad especially from a couple oil producing countries of the Middle East but it was his Trinbagonian heart that brought him back to the Trinidad Civil Service and an office in the Red House. He determined that he would take his family back home to Trinidad never dreaming that his Credit Union “idea” could become a reality. My brother and I heaved sighs of relief – we didn’t want to go to boarding schools in England.

I’ll never forget the boat trip coming back to Trinidad. As we drew nearer to our island home my parents were happier than I could ever remember seeing them, the sun seemed to shine more brightly, the breeze got warmer as we came south and the first night in the tropics, I think we were near St. Kitts, there were millions of stars dotting the exotic Caribbean night sky.

My father was the sixth of the seven sons born to Charles Richards Farrell and Mary Marguerite Brunton in Trinidad. Charles and Mary met in England where they were both attending University and were married on their return to Trinidad. He was to become the first local to be appointed City Engineer, a post which was later taken over by his son, Reggie.

Frederick and Lucia Farrell

The Farrell boys were brilliant students at Queen’s Royal College and significant sportsmen playing football, tennis and cricket for Island teams while still at college. With the exception of Pat who died while still at Q.R.C., the six remaining brothers followed up school successes with distinguished careers. The oldest son, Arthur, was a teacher. He became Acting Headmaster at Queens Royal College and, later, Headmaster at the newly established St. Georges College. He married Ivy Gordon and had two children, Gordon and Sheila, who married an Ethiopian diplomat she met at Oxford University.

Second son Reginald, called “Reggie” followed in his father’s footsteps and became the City Engineer. He married Hilda Huggins and they had five daughters. Third son Edward, usually called “Teddie”, became a dentist, married a Vincentian called Edna Creighton and had three children, Gideon, Hazel and Christopher. Harry became Port of Spain’s Town Clerk, married a green-eyed beauty from Guyana, Ruth Atkinson and had five children. My father Freddie became a Land Surveyor like his father, and subsequently, Director of Surveys and Sub-Intendent of Crown Lands as the head of the Lands and Surveys Department at the Red House. He married Lucia Lumsden and had two children, fashion journalist Rosemary (Stone) and Anthony, a Civil Engineer.

Francis Theodore, called “Frankie,” became the Supervisor of Elections, at the head of the Elections and Boundaries Commission. He also married a Lumsden named Elsa and had three children, Maureen, Patricia, and Richard. He fully supported his brother in the development of RHAND and served on its board for many years. The gathering of an enthusiastic and competent board and the introduction of early members was a formidable task which the brothers tackled, meeting quite often in the gallery of our Woodbrook home. I still remember the group talking late into the night, I guess they were discussing procedures and sorting out organizational problems.

Rosemary Farrell-Stone

It was from that gallery that they named the new credit union RHAND, which represented the Civil Service Departments in the Red House and nearby Government Departments – and the rest, as they say, is history. Today it successfully functions as a thriving financial co-operative that is member based and designed to provide financial and economic services to the community. It is certainly something that we, the children and grandchildren of the founding Farrell brothers, are very proud but that’s not the end of the Farrells and the Credit Union story.

City Engineer and proud father of the family of distinguished sons, Charles, was the man who brought potable water to the people of Trinidad & Tobago. He built a series of beautiful pumping stations around the city including the one at Westpark in Cocorite opposite “The Falls” at West Mall. In 1958 he was commemorated by the Trinidad water production sector when they formed a new Credit Union and named it Farrell Pumping Station Credit Union Co-operative Society Limited. Today, however, it operates under a new name COPOS Credit Union Society Limited of Trinidad & Tobago.

And so, in these troubled times, we feel safer to a large extent by the services and protections offered by organizations like the RHAND Credit Union.

– Rosemary Farrell-Stone

Today RHAND continues to thrive and remains as dedicated to their members as they did when they first served them in 1947.