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Jamaica National UK Members Cast Historic Bank Vote

BALLOTS: JNBS representatives secure the ballot boxes after the voting by members

A PRECIOUS CARGO of cardboard boxes crammed with voting papers is currently winging its way from the UK back home to Jamaica as the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) moves a step nearer to becoming a commercial bank.

They contain the proxy votes of thousands of UK JNBS members who will play their part in one of the most significant moments in the society’s history

But it will still remain a one-stop financial institution where its customers are also its owners – the rule of one member, one vote will always apply.

And the emphasis remains on the family, which was demonstrated in Birmingham last Sunday with a family-style meal at Aston Villa Football Club, courtesy of typical Jamaica National hospitality.

The fact that the traditional Caribbean Sunday dinner catered for more than 500 people emphasised the ethos of JNBS – it may have grown to more than 600,000 members worldwide, but the essence of ‘family’ remains at its core.

Coaches from across the Midlands converged on Birmingham and each region had a cheer, led by Ms Paulette Simpson, JNBS Executive for Corporate Affairs & Public Policy.

People from Derby, Leicester, Huddersfield, Leeds, Manchester, Coventry, Walsall and Wolverhampton were all clapped in, but the place that received the biggest cheer of all was Jamaica herself.

As Ms Simpson explained: “Jamaica National will continue to be owned by every single person in this room – the principle of one member one vote, regardless of their savings, remains the same.”

DISCUSSION: JNBS Chairman Oliver Clarke (right) meets a member prior to the voting

Following the meal, the Hon. Oliver Clarke, OJ, who chairs JNBS, soon had Birmingham’s JN family roaring with laughter at his hilarious jokes repertoire.

Mrs Maureen Hayden-Cater, Managing Director Designate JN Bank, said the company remained ‘humbled’ by members’ trust and said JN would ‘continue to help customers find the way.’

She said: “It’s our hope that you will have the same level of confidence as we go through this major but positive change. I want you to pause with me to reflect on the journey with JN.

“Reflect on how we have grown from a mere 30 members who met in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, in 1871 to discuss the formation of an organisation to assist the sons and daughters of former slaves to become landowners and home owners in a period when blacks were literally prevented from owning assets. More than 140 years later, that same organisation is more than 600,000 strong.

“And very soon we will become the proud owners of our very own commercial bank – JN Bank.”

Earl Jarrett, CD, JP, JNBS General Manager, praised the outstanding turnout in Birmingham, which included Councillor Sybil Spence, who became the city’s first black Lord Mayor in 1997.

He stressed that JN was more than just a financial business and had always remained rooted in the community it served, being particularly committed to nurturing future generations.

And he played a recording of the Sam Cooke classic ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ to emphasise the groundbreaking time ahead for JN as it transforms itself into a commercial bank.

The responsibility of safely delivering the members’ proxy votes is on the shoulders of one woman – Dr Dana Morris Dixon, who works in business & research for JNBS; she explained the proxy and voting process to members in Birmingham.

She flew back to Jamaica with four boxes of votes from Birmingham together with more from an earlier meeting in London for voting D-Day in Jamaica on Monday November 14.

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