Fifty years of friendship and finance – meet Brian Titley

Today in our series of interviews looking back over fifty years of friendship and finance we speak to Brian Titley. Brian joined ICOF as a Trustee in 2003, having known about the organisation previously and in fact having borrowed from it, as part of CAN – Co-operative Assistance Network. Brian remains involved in Community Shares ICOF today.

‘I remember the first Strategy Weekend I was part of vividly, as the Sunday morning session was also the Rugby World Cup final, and I remember not being *quite* sure I really wanted to be at the meeting while that was on *laughs*. That was in 2003 and I stayed as a Trustee until 2019, just before Covid.

Early on, I became the staff trustee. Alain Demontoux had been in that position, and he then became a member of ICOF staff so I took it on. I was staff trustee for about 10 years and then became Treasurer. And, obviously, when I left that left a huge hole *laughs*. Other involvements rang alongside that too. I’m still on the board of CSI – Community Shares ICOF. This started up from within ICOF, but is independent and there are some cross-overs and links. 

I’m also a member, employee and Director of Co-operative Assistance Network – I’ve been an employee since 1999, and I was as a subcontractor for five years before that as well. We have had 12 or possibly even 13 loans from ICOF. When I stood for the ICOF post in 2003, I had to stand up and say a little bit about myself. At that stage, I think we’d had six or seven loans. I stood up and declared we’d had these loans, and I remember Lord Graham was there who was a Labour peer, and he blurted out, as I said, this, ‘But how many have you repaid?’ My answer was all of them!. They were all for different things –  refinancing, working capital and actual capital items.

I also remember being in a meeting once when we were looking at a graph of cumulative loans. And the point was made by one Trustee that one of the positive things was this graph always went up. Which is the point of a cumulative graph! Unless you start doing negative loans *laughs* it’s always going to. And I pointed this out, not trying to be a clever clogs, but it was very difficult not to sound like one at that moment. 

Well done ICOF and happy birthday. Let’s keep on lending to co-operatives and community-owned enterprises, but especially to workers co-operatives, to democratise the workplace and put the means of production into the hands of the workers. Happy birthday!