Meet the Board

Thamesbank’s governance and direction is made by its voluntary board members. The board meets on a regular basis and discusses a range of regulatory issues.

This series introduces each of our current board members.

“The old saying ‘save for a rainy day’ is as important now as it was then. We all have those unexpected bills” – Sarah Gardner

Sarah Gardner, Vice Chair

Educated to masters degree level, Sarah is a Chartered Manager and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute. She holds an array of specialist qualifications including project management, marketing and change management.

Currently working as a Project and Improvement Manager. Sarah specialises in project and change management and has previous work experience in marketing, and has worked as an investigator.

Sarah is a mum of two, a school governor and is also a commissioned army officer (ACF) who has volunteered for over 15 years and has been awarded a Cadet Forces Medal.

In her free time, Sarah likes writing books and working on design projects.

As well as Vice Chair, Sarah sits on the strategy working group.

Sarah, thank you for your time to be spotlighted for ‘Meet the Board’.

Q. Just an introductory question, when were you first appointed to the Thamesbank board of directors?

A – September 2018, so this month will be my two-year anniversary at Thamesbank.

Q – Congratulations on your two-year Anniversary. How did you first get involved with governance of a Credit Union?

A – I have always been passionate about helping people and when Cllr Lambert, the chair at the time, told me about Thamesbank and asked if I would like to get involved I thought it was such a worthy course and was delighted to join the board.

Q – As a busy, working mum of two young children, can you share any money saving tips which work for you?

A – Being so busy, it’s easy to lose track. Lists and noting important calendar dates keep my finances in check. As it does with any other task.

I have a list of regular payments that are coming in and out each month. I then total up at the bottom of the list what I have left to spend on other items. In a separate column I keep track of what I buy on top of what I have budgeted for.

A way that I manage my money and which works for me is setting up a Savings Account which I pay into monthly. This account is completely separate to my everyday account.

Another tip, if you’re able to, is having in-place an agreed overdraft on your everyday account so that if you do go over slightly you won’t get charged.

Keeping a young family I’ve found online shopping so convenient. You’re just a few clicks away to have food and necessities delivered to your door. However, something I’ve noticed are the impulse buys at point of check-out. It’s often things I don’t really need, so I find wish-lists are a great way to manage impulse buys. By putting things in my online virtual wish-list, I can then go back another time and decide if I still really need it.

Points and reward systems are also beneficial to make your money work for you. Look out for best deals and discount codes – they can make a difference to your bills and even pay for family days out with the right deal. 

Q – In your opinion what is the biggest hurdle in successful money management that make a lot of people give up?

A – Discipline. There is a lot of pressure to spend above your means. Social Media channels are all promoting certain lifestyles many of us can’t afford and I think that’s having a big impact on young people especially to think they must have the same.

The old saying ‘save for a rainy day’ is as important now as it was then. We all have those unexpected bills – whether it’s the boiler or washing machine that needs fixing. When you work out your monthly finances, set a chunk aside for repairs and maintenance – they’re part of life.

Q – Personal finance, savings and loans, is a competitive market. What are your top 3 reasons for joining a Credit Union as opposed to a high-street bank?

A – 1. Thamesbank Credit Union offer more affordable loans compared with Payday loan companies.

2. We can provide finances to community members when banks have declined.

3. We are a not-for-profit organisation and we are here for the good of the community. When you join you become part of a community that helps others.

Q – As part of the Strategy Working Group, can you reveal any exciting developments happening within Credit Unions, or Thamesbank for our members to look out for in the future?

A – At Thamesbank it’s a really exciting time, we are bringing out new products all the time. Recently, in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic we brought out a low rate key worker loan.

We also have a new system that will make our back office more automated and a new website coming soon.

So keep watching this space … We are always working on ways to make it easier for our members.

With thanks to Sarah Gardner, Vice-Chair Thamesbank Credit Union

Send in your questions to the board: