We’re enjoying the chance to talk to people who have been involved in ICOF over the last 50 years and it’s particularly lovely to have a chance to catch up with our old Investment manager, Ian Rothwell.
Ian left us early in 2022, after working for ICOF for 14 years. Here, he looks back on his experiences of us.
‘I first had any involvement with ICOF in the 1980s when I was chair of Nottingham Co-op Development Agency. We had a loan fund, and we worked with ICOF a couple of times on joint loans. Then in 2008 I joined them as an employee. I took over from Andrew Hibbert as Development Manager, and then I became Lending Manager, where I stayed until 2022.
As I said when we spoke before, I was really proud of the whole community shares initiative and setting up the fund to go with that. And then there were loads of loans that I look back on really fondly. I particularly enjoyed ones that were a bit different. There was Harrogate Working Men’s club, and bringing a Working Men’s Club into the co-op movement felt amazing. Retrofit businesses and the co-ops that made things were always fun – I enjoyed working with Specialised Castings at their foundry. And then there was the lovely Bishopwearmouth Co-operative who run a garden nursery and cafe, and work with people with learning difficulties. It was a fabulous model. I really enjoyed seeing all the ways that cooperation could work with something a bit different as well as the more traditional co-ops. Two others that I loved were Boundary Brewing in Northern Ireland, as that was again, making something tangible and it was my first loan in NI. And of course being part of October Books fabulous human chain, and the international press it generated, was incredible too. (See the story here in the New York Times, the Guardian and on the BBC)
It’s fabulous that ICOF has been around for so long, and for it still to be going, and true to its roots and values, is a huge achievement for everyone who’s been involved over the years. It’s done so much good and provided so much support for the cooperative movement and that’s down to the staff and trustees. Happy birthday ICOF – well done and keep going!