The Wallace G. Pooley & Keith E. Downing Memorial Trust Fund Award commemorates the exceptional services provided over a period of 43 years by Wallace Pooley and Keith Downing in their capacity as honorary general secretaries to the Co-operative Housing Societies Association of New South Wales.
Wallace George Pooley was a dedicated man, virtually devoting his life to the advancement of the Terminating & Building Society Movement, as it was known before the change to Housing Societies. The strength of the Movement today is largely due to the remarkable drive he gave to this industry in its formative years. From the Association’s inception in 1937 he acted as its honorary secretary until his death in 1954.
He was an extraordinarily able organiser with a background of newspaper reporting. He was the chief executive responsible for helping the government to set up Co-operative Building Societies with government guarantees under the Co-operation Act of 1923.
Wallace Pooley also formed the largest group of Building Societies in New South Wales and acted as its secretary until his death at a relatively early age. His premature death was a great loss and one of his dearest wishes was the stabilisation of the building industry and the encouragement of young people into it.
Keith Edward Downing, a chartered accountant, was a thoughtful and steady man with great enthusiasm for the building society movement. In 1954 he was appointed honorary general secretary and held the position until his death in 1980. He also had been actively involved with Terminating Building Societies since their inception in 1937 in New South Wales from which time he was also the founding secretary of the Metropolitan Homes Group of Co-operative Housing Societies.
In 1956 he was one of the chief architects in making the services of Co-operative Building Societies available to government under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. Over the years that followed, this arrangement enabled the provision of a major flow of home purchase funds to the co-operative movement greatly assisting low and moderate income earners purchase homes throughout Australia.
Keith Downing was one of the co-founders of the Australian Council of Co-operative Housing Societies, the national peak body, and served as its honorary secretary for many years. Also, for a number of years, he was vice president of The International Union of Building Societies and Savings Associations, ultimately being awarded honorary life membership of the International Union.
His wise counsel to the Industry and the desire to facilitate affordable housing finance was well recognized by those who knew him.
Following their deaths funds, were donated by member societies of the Assocation and those who had worked with them which enabled the creation of a Memorial Trust. In accordance with the terms of the deed the Board of the Co-operative Housing Societies Association of New South Wales decided that the most appropriate way to perpetuate the memory of such visionary and active personalities was to create an award recognising those young Australians who are furthering their knowledge with the object of continuing the visions started by Wallace Pooley and Keith Downing.