A LEADING credit union volunteer is calling it a day after 31 years - but leaves behind millions of pounds in the bank.

Greenock man Lee Hendry has helped a grassroots community project set up in a corner of the east end grow into a major player in the local economy.

In the run-up to Christmas the Tail O' Bank Credit Union released around £1 million saved up by their 8,000 members.

Board member and volunteer Lee says the credit union has never lost its roots despite now working with a £5m in the bank.

Grandad Lee, 70, from Greenock's Castle Road, said: "I will always be very proud of what we have built at the credit union.

"We don't have customers here, we have members, and everyone belongs to the credit union.

"I have made so many friends along the way.

"I only came in for a fortnight to help cover and I have been here for 30-odd years.

"I am a volunteer but I worked six days a week."

Lee says he has seen a lot of change during his service with the group, which is based in Kilblain Street, with technology having a big impact.

He said: "When I first started we didn't have any computers, so you had to use your brain."

Like most volunteers Lee's involvement began when he joined as a member back in the days when the credit union belonged in the east end.

It was established by local priest Father Jamieson and minister Reverend Iain Fraser to help families who had lost their livelihoods when the shipyards closed.

Retired train driver Lee said: "I was paid off from the shipyards and you had to use your redundancy to live on.

"I became a member of the credit union like most people back then."

At that time the credit union worked in the hundreds, taking small savings and handing out small loans.

Now they finance cars and home improvement projects but the idea of regularly saving money remains.

Lee added: "If you save money and keep it in the credit union it helps other members."

The former board member is now planning to spend more time with his family - wife Anne, daughters Carol and Cathryn and son Ian, as well as his grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

The Tail O' Bank team are currently focusing on setting up in schools and encouraging young people to come on board.

Chairwoman Sandra Wilson, a long standing volunteer, said: "Lee will be missed - it is people like him who have kept the ethos of the original credit union going.

"We feel such a huge responsibility to the community.

"All our families are members as well.

"At one point I had five generations of my family as members."

The credit union has £2.5 million loaned out at the moment and double that figure in savings deposited.

One of its most successful projects is the Christmas Club.

The savings scheme, set up in response to the infamous Fare Pak scandal a few years ago, has proved hugely popular.

Sandra said: "Our members saved up £139,000 in total in the run up to Christmas."