Last year’s fund saw 246 applications from a wide variety of groups looking to make a difference and 132 making the shortlist! After a fierce public vote, with over 51,000 votes cast, 26 projects won funding. The projects touch communities across Britain, from the Outer Hebrides (Comunn Eachdraidh Nis Community Hub) to Cornwall (Hayle Outdoor Swimming Pool) and everywhere in between.
As one of last year’s winners, Harry’s Hydrotherapy Pool in Frome, has shown how the funding can make a real difference. The organisation, which aims to relieve sickness and improve quality of life for those with sensory learning or profound multiple difficulties, used the money to install solar panels to warm its specially adapted pool and is forecasted to save up to £2,000 a year in heating bills.
Peter Gowland from Hartlepower Community Interest Company (CIC), who won £40,000 of funding to create Hartlepool’s first solar school said, “The M&S Energy Community Energy Fund initiative couldn’t have come at a better time for Hartlepool CIC. Our experience of the competition was really positive and we would like to warmly thank the company for having the vision to initiate such a scheme, which in our case inspired other schools – and not just in Hartlepool – to want to go solar!”
Jonathan Hazeldine, Head of M&S Energy said, “It’s been fantastic to see so many innovative and inspirational projects benefit from the 2015 M&S Energy Community Energy Fund. We’re excited to begin the search for more groups who can really make a difference to their local communities. As a 100% green energy provider, supporting those who share our vision of a sustainable future through renewable energy is really important to our company, our customers and our colleagues.”
River Cottage are proud to support the project.