Here is the full text of The Hon. Mrs Nona Byrne's speech: "First of all, a little of our history. 33 years ago I attended the Society's first meeting as a founder director. at 49 Harrington Road. Kensington. That was in September 1960.
In 1966 we moved to Great Peter Street to share premises with Canon Adrian Arrowsmith. who was then Youth Chaplain for the Diocese and whom we welcomed as a Director for
21 years until his retirement in 1989. • With assets of one million pounds and three staff. by 1971) we were keen to have a home of our own. so in January 1972 we moved here to Strutton Ground. into a forrher MacFisheries shop, which we converted into office use.
By 1990 the limitations of that conversion were seriously hindering our devlopment. with eight staff and no room for any more. to service our 4,000 investors and the 700 accounts of our homeowners.
So after much careful planning and costing we moved next door to number y in July 1992. and returned here on 2n July, to
immensely improved conditions for members, staff and directors.
In those thirty-three years we have moved offices, with all the upheaval involved, no fewer than five times. That must be some sort of building society record.
I am confident that we can stay here until well into the next century, now that we have space for nearly 20 staff.
During all those moves the essence of our housing policy has been an unchanging commitment to serve the various housing needs of the Catholic community in England and Wales.
In recent years many Anglican and Methodists. to wHom our ethos as a traditional society appeals, have joined us.
Housing problems increase rather than reduce.
caused by marital breakdown, more older people living alone, and more unemployment. The Society continues its policy of making home loans on lower cost property within the means of those with lower than average incomes.
Equal priority has always been given to women. who each year receive over 30% of our home loans, far higher than the average of other societies." I shall now ask Francis Higgins, our Managing Director. to give some examples of the housing problems we have helped to solve this year".
Francis Higgins added: -Our home loans to 30 September will reach £2.5 millions, almost £1 million more than the whole of 1992.
Consistent with our lending policy summarised by Nona, women have received 38% of this year's home loans. Twelve of the women with 25 children have been victims of broken marriages.
All were at risk of becoming homeless. because their existing lenders either would not continue their home loans. or would not grant new loans on alternative housing.
We have refinanced those loans on affordable terms, for families as far apart as Somerset. Sussex, London. Wales, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire. In addition we have been able to assist several families to transfer from council housing to homeownership, thus freeing scarce public housing for younger families to rent. We enabled one retired couple who were tenants in Tower Hamlets for 30 years. to move to a pleasant Kent village. close to where their son lives.
His letters to us have clearly indicated what a happy solution this has been for the entire family."
Mrs Byrne continued, hope that Rosalind Gilmore will not mind if I quote from her address to this year's Building Societies Conference. speaking of the challenges facing societies:
"The momentous changes are that patterns of work and patterns of family life are far more uncertain than they were." "Divorce rates, single parenthood and the number of older people living alone are rising."
"New household formation is likely to be dominated by families whose income is both less and also less secure. You have a duty to serve them."
The Catholic Building Society has responded to that duty for many years and, I assure you all, will continue doing so for many years to come helped by these new and beautiful offices.
It is my pleasure to invite Your Eminence to unveil this simple plaque, to reopen and to re-dedicate No.7 Strutton Ground, and in so doing to bless all who work here and the work we do."