Letchworth GC Vicar accused of being a loan shark

A vicar has laughed off claims he is a loan shark! The Rev Barry Pate of St Thomas Church in Bedford Road, Letchworth GC, was shocked when he was confronted in the street and received two angry phone calls regarding his church being used as a collection

A vicar has laughed off claims he is a loan shark!

The Rev Barry Pate of St Thomas' Church in Bedford Road, Letchworth GC, was shocked when he was confronted in the street and received two angry phone calls regarding his church being used as a collection point for a credit union.

Every home in the Wilbury parish was sent a Christmas greeting, notices of service as well information about the church hall being a new collection point for the Black Squirrel Credit Union (BSCU) on Tuesday evenings.

The two phone callers said it was a disgrace the church was publicising loan sharks and using church property to collect cash.


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"I've been accused of a lot worse than being a loan shark," said the Rev Pate, who has been vicar at the church for the past 10 years.

"The two phone calls and being confronted in the street were about the church hall being used by the local credit union. People were obviously upset and said I was loan sharking. But they had got the wrong end of the stick and I, hopefully, put them at ease and told them what credit unions are all about and it certainly is not loan sharking.

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"People had been talking since we sent out our leaflet over Christmas and obviously don't have much else to do. Letchworth is still not a bad place to live but we are not immune from financial problems.

"There are good ways to save and budget money and a credit union helps people do that with proper planning."

The Rev Pate now intends to go into schools and preach about how young people can learn about controlling money matters so when they are older they will be prepared to look after their cash.

"I believe we are doing the right thing by helping the Black Squirrel Credit Union use out church facilities," added the Rev Pate.

"Yes, some people have had their rant and rave at me on the phone but when I tell them they have got it wrong they apologise."

The BSCU is regulated by the Financial Services Authority and sponsored by North Herts District Council, The Co-operative Group, North Hertfordshire Homes and the Howard Cottage Housing Association.

Anyone in North Herts is entitled to join the BSCU. Other collection sites are at the Coffee Mill, Westmill, Hitchin, on Saturday between 10.30 and 11.30am, at Walsworth Community Centre on Tuesday between 7 and 8pm and at the entrance to the old Jackmans Library, Ivel Court, Letchworth GC, on Thursday between 6.15 and 7.15pm.

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