Success stories

Somerford Keynes Village Lake

The Calor Rural Community Fund supports community projects off the mains gas grid across the U.K. and has provided funding for 214 projects over the past 4 years. 2019 winners, Somerford Keynes Village Lake applied to the fund with hopes of increasing the biodiversity in the area, as well as providing more activities and educational opportunities for children and families that visit the lake. 

The forming of the lake

Originally a gravel works, the area was transformed into a lake 5 years ago, quickly becoming a tranquil spot just outside of the village of Somerford Keynes where residents can take in the nature, walk their dogs, and spend time with their families. 

The parish council saw the potential to expand on it and make more educational opportunities and activities for children, as well introducing more wildlife and foliage to the lake and its surroundings, but they had a lack of funding to put the plans in place. This is when they researched other funding methods and discovered the Calor Rural Community Fund. 

Somerford Keynes Village Lake Chairman, Mike Wilding, explains: “Since the lake’s creation, we had not only seen an increase in people using it, but also in the amount of wildlife there. We had equipment for work on the lake but nowhere to store it and many ideas of how we could introduce more activities around the lake. We also wanted to continue improving the wildlife in the area by introducing more wild plants, so this was the basis for our submission to the Rural Community Fund.

Discovering the Calor Rural Community Fund

“A colleague of mine came across the Fund when he was on a walk in a rural part of Wales. He visited a village centre that had been upgraded thanks to funding from Calor and thought it would be a great opportunity for us to improve the lake for our community.” 

When all the applications have been submitted to the Rural Community Fund website, the supporting stage begins. Every like, share and donation to a project is worth points that accumulate at the end of this stage. The highest scoring projects then go through to the finals where they’re scored by a panel of impartial judges, which is based on a project’s potential impact on the local community, its sustainability once launched, the originality of the idea and the quality of the submission. This initial crowdfunding element also means that projects can still build up funding through donations from the public, even if they don’t win one of the main grants.  

As Mike explains: “The crowdfunding stage was very exciting, we had to get everyone in the local area behind the project and after falling behind others at times, the community really came together to push it forward and get the support we needed to make it to the judging stage, which we were successful in doing. 

Somerford Keynes Village Lake were one of 21 applicants to gain funding from the Calor Rural Community Fund and received a £5,000 grant. 

How the grant was used

“We have volunteer days where people from the village come to the lake and help with its upkeep, but having funding behind us means the lake can reach its full potential. About 90% of the work has been done now after beginning the upgrades in mid-July of 2019.” 

Mike adds: “The funding has been spent on a variety of equipment and services that were needed, such as a pond dipping platform and equipment, as well as a shed to store it all in and investing in tree surgery to create better treelines for visitors and the wildlife. In addition to this, we also installed a floating island on the lake in September 2020 which was a brilliant addition for visitors.

“To further improve the local wildlife, we used a portion of the grant to install an owl box with a camera inside to capture visiting Tawny and Barn owls. We also now have a bee house, with plans to use the rest of the fund to create a meadow of wild flowers around the lake.” 

With the majority of the improvements now in place, Somerford Village have a summer to look forward to with a new area for the community interact and appreciate nature together. 

“The difference the Calor funding has made is incredible and seeing so much progress from it has made all of this work completely worthwhile, it’s not always easy getting people involved but it pays off when your community has a new space to socialise and relax. It brings the community closer together too, particularly after the pandemic, volunteering days offer a great chance for people to meet and work on something to improve the community as a whole.” Mike said. 

To learn more about the Rural Community Fund and take a look at more previous projects, visit:

Success stories

Bitterly Primary School Outdoor Classroom

The Calor Rural Community Fund supports community projects in rural areas of the country. Since it began 4 years ago, over £460,000 has been generated for 214 community projects through Crowdfunder donations and Calor contributions. One of the great winning projects from 2020 was Bitterley Primary School, with a proposal to build an outdoor classroom. 

With an unloved outdoor space that was falling into disrepair, Bitterly Primary School in Shropshire knew that with some funding and some work, it could be transformed into the perfect area for their pupils to learn about nature. 

In early 2020, through their own fundraising efforts and the help of a local landscaping company, the school began a garden project. With a new garden design, the space was cleared and new paths and growing beds installed. Once this was in place, the potential for further outdoor learning opportunities became clear and the idea to build an outdoor classroom came to light, but first, they needed to find a way to fund the project. 

Rachel Whiteman, Chair of the PTA, otherwise known as Bitterley Friends, explains: “We hold fundraising events throughout the year such as school discos, sponsored walks and a Christmas Fayre to raise money for new projects, but with Covid-19, many of these events weren’t able to go ahead and we had to look for alternative ways of funding the project.

“We were thrilled to find out about the Calor Rural Community Fund and excited that it could offer us the perfect opportunity to try and reach our funding target.”

Bitterly Friends heard about the Calor Rural Community Fund through a friend who had been involved with Corvedale Centre for Children. This was a winning project from 2019, which aimed to create a vegetable, herb and wildlife garden at their nursery, pre-school and children’s centre, with the intention of growing fresh produce which would be used in the children’s school dinners. After seeing how beneficial the Rural Community Fund could be to community projects such as this, Bitterly Primary School put together their own application for 2020. 

Public supporting 

The first stage of the Rural Community Fund process involves setting out the aims of the project to encourage public engagement through crowdfunding. Once the projects are shared on the Rural Community Fund website, every like, share and donation to a project is worth points that accumulate at the end of this stage. The highest scoring projects in each funding category (£5,000, £2,500 and £1,000) then go through to the finals where they’re scored by a panel of impartial judges. The school had never utilised crowdfunding before and were blown away by an influx of support from their local community.

“After submitting our successful application, the children’s families began sharing and donating to the project, and from there, word began to spread across the whole local community, who really got behind it. We raised over £2,000 in donations from the initial crowdfunding before receiving the amazing news that we had won the £5,000 grant from Calor. This was incredible as we then knew we would be able to make this project a reality.” said Rachel. 

She continued: “The extra boost from the crowdfunding not only gave us additional financial support, but also helped involve the community in the project. This is one of the best things about the Calor Rural Community Fund, because even the projects that don’t receive one of the main grants, still get a boost of support”. 

After receiving the £5000 grant from Calor, the school were able to begin building the outdoor classroom in addition to an outdoor kitchen, with a hand washing station and a new roof over the clay oven that was built by pupils of the school over 10 years ago. 

The final steps

Rachel continued: “The project took just over a year to complete. We finished during the 2021 Easter holidays and thanks to the funding we received from Calor, it was ready for the long-awaited return of the children once Covid restrictions began to ease.

“Just some of the benefits the school has seen from the new outdoor classroom include providing much needed extra classroom space, creating new learning opportunities about the environment, nature and food provenance, in addition to developing skills like teamwork and problem solving in a more engaging environment. 

“The classroom is also the perfect centre point for the school and can be used for new after school clubs such as forest school and gardening club. It’s the perfect way for pupils to readjust to normal school life with a stimulating environment to learn in.” 

After such a positive reaction, Bitterly Primary School plans to continue adding to its outdoor space and carry on providing new experiences and ways of learning for their pupils. The school was over the moon to have received the £5,000 grant and would encourage any rural community projects looking for additional support and funding to get involved.

To see how this years’ Rural Community Fund is going and to learn more about the projects, visit:

Success stories

2020 – £85,000 for Calor’s 85th anniversary

Since launching the Fund in 2017, we’ve been able to support 73 inspiring rural community projects across the UK, with this year being the most competitive yet!

Since opening for applications in March, we had over 600 project applications, a fantastic 12,000 likes, 1,800 shares and an astonishing £234,000 raised from the crowd. But which lucky projects have taken home a share of £85,000?

The prizes

To tie in with our 85th anniversary, we’ve given away £85,000 – our biggest prize pot ever! We’ve also given away more prizes than ever before; we’ve awarded 5 x £1,000, 6 x £2,500, 11 x £5,000, AND, also £500 to all 20 of the remaining finalists who didn’t win one of the main grants. 

Crowdfunder partnership

As well as providing £500 to each of our remaining 20 finalists this year, we wanted to give rural communities the best chance to raise money for their local project. This is where Crowdfunder came in for the second year running; projects were given the opportunity to raise money from their supporting crowd, in addition to the grant they applied for through the Rural Community Fund. 

We were all blown away with how much money was raised – an incredible £234,000 on top of the £85,000 we gave away. This gave more communities than ever before the chance to bring their projects to life.


Once the public had the chance to show their support by liking, sharing or pledging on their favourite projects, we had 42 shortlisted finalists who made it through to the next stage. It was then over to the judges to choose our 22 winners!

The judges – made up of representatives from Mind, our corporate charity, Chapter, Plunkett and Rural England – had the extremely tricky task of whittling our 42 finalists down to 22 winners. They assessed project applications based on four factors: Impact (40%) Sustainability (35%), Submission (15%) and Originality (10%). 

The competition was extremely close. A huge congratulations to all of this year’s 22 winners who won a share of the £85,000 prize pot.

Winners in the £5,000 category

Girlguiding and Scouts – Help fix our hut! Central England
They’d like to replace the toilets and fit disabled facilities to make it a safer space for everyone in their community.

Allendale PreSchool’s Green Space, North of England
They’re going to transform an area of land into a fertile garden for growing plants, vegetables and imaginations – making it a space where children can thrive.

Helping Ansty See and Hear, South East of England
Their project will install an Audio Visual system and Hearing Loop in the new Ansty Village Hall.

1st Woolsery Beavers Cubs & Scouts Nights Away Kit, South West of England
They’d like to buy tents, camp stoves, table and chairs and much more that they will use for nights and hikes away. This will enable their members to learn skills for life.

North Cornwall Arts Alive, South West England
They’re going to purchase new staging, lighting & sound equipment to help provide high quality arts events for North Cornwall.

A New Dawn for Llanboidy, West England & Wales
They’re going to buy play and sports equipment for both indoors and outdoors to enable everyone in their community to improve their physical and mental wellbeing.

FARS – All Lives Are Precious, West England & Wales
They’re planning on spending their money on making improvements to their pathways to enable better access for all members of their community, especially those with disabilities.

Bitterley Primary School Outdoor Classroom, West England & Wales
They’re going to build an outdoor classroom so that their children can benefit from learning in and about the environment, nature and growing food.

Extending & Improving Quatt Village Hall Car Park, West England & Wales
They’d like to extend it and create a hard standing area with designated disabled spaces.

The Drefach AFC home pitch rejuvenation project, West England & Wales
They’re going to use the money to create a drainage system and fencing around their playing fields, to improve the quality of their pitches all year round.

A place to meet, have coffee and chat at SpArC, West England & Wales
They’d like to equip their community café with electrical equipment such as, a coffee machine, dishwasher, fridges, a boiler and a Microwave.

Winners in the £2,500 category

The toolshed, Central England
They are going to purchase equipment to provide the community with a space to repair, repurpose or recycle unloved things.

Bertie The NAAFI Van Tours, Scotland
They’re going to purchase a trailer and cover to protect “Bertie”, the last remaining WWII Austin 8 NAAFI van in existence.

St Magnus Way upgrade and virtual experience, Scotland
They’re going to upgrade specific sections of the St Magnus Way, to make it more accessible to all, and to create a virtual experience.

Move the Mind, South West England 
They are going to improve their facilities, enabling them to support even more children with autism and neurological conditions by providing a safe, engaging space for them to enjoy.

Brixham Church of England Forest School Round House, South West England 
The money will be used to repair the Round House on their Forest School site, allowing children to continue their Forest School adventures.

Beach Wheelchairs for Llys Cadfan Home, West England & Wales
They’re going to spend their winnings on the purchase of a Beach Wheelchair so residents can enjoy the experience of being on a beach, reliving precious memories.

Winners in the £1,000 category

A Defibrillator for Morton and the Playing Field, Central England
Many children play sports on Morton field and the village is isolated, a defibrillator is vital if anyone collapses, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all who use the field.

Renovation of Scout Hut and purchase of equipment, South West of England
They’re going to upgrade their meeting hut, buy equipment to provide safety and comfort of 60 young people involved in scouting and buy equipment for safe camping.

Llanferres Park Timber Replacements and Playbark, West England & Wales 
To ensure the park is safe, they’re going to replace retention posts for play bark and support posts for multiplay equipment.

New equipment for 1st Johnston Scout Group, West England & Wales
They’re going to purchase hike tents, camping gas stoves and games equipment, enabling them to continue to offer life changing experiences to young people in their community.

Equipping the Community to be Independent, West England & Wales
They will use their grant to enable end-of-life patients to have free access to equipment so they can be cared for at home.

Thank you for supporting this year’s community projects and a huge congratulations to this year’s winners – they really are great initiatives!

Success stories

Chequers Kitchen brought back to life

A winner of the 2018 Calor Rural Community Fund, Chequers Kitchen improves the quality of lives in their community by teaching people how to cook healthy, low budget meals from scratch.

Success stories

FenSong brings community together

Winners in 2019, performing arts group, FenSong, has been able to support children and adults with a place to meet, socialise and learn new skills thanks to a £5,000 boost from the Calor Rural Community Fund.  Watch their story to find out more.


What does a crowdfunding journey look like?

So you’ve made the decision that you want to crowdfund and raise money for your idea, business or organisation. Welcome to the beginning of your crowdfunding journey! But what does it look like from here on in?

We caught up with Bertie, Crowdfunder Coach, to find out what you can expect to happen along the way. 

As a coach here at Crowdfunder, I have the wonderful job of keenly following the progress of some of the best projects that are raising money with us. In my experience, the most successful projects, disregarding how much they intend to raise, follow very similar patterns meaning that there are some key things to know, such as what you do before going live and what you do during your campaign, that can contribute to the success of your crowdfunding journey.

In an ideal crowdfunding world, the total lifespan for a successful project would be seven weeks, which breaks down into three weeks of preparation, which includes planning and creating your project, and then four weeks of running your campaign and crowdfunding to make it happen.

Planning + Creating: The first three weeks 

It’s no secret that we believe the preparation of your campaign to be arguably the most important stage during your crowdfunding journey. If you can put in the hours here, then you’ll be sure to reap the fruits of your labour later-on.

This planning period is essential and will help you to manage any risk in your campaign before going live, by giving you a strong understanding of where the money is going to come from.

If you’re not sure where to start when planning your project, then don’t worry because we’ve distilled everything that we have learnt over the last five years into three guides that will help you every step of the way, including planning, creating and running your project.

If you use these guides prior to going live, I can guarantee that you will raise more money for your idea.

Rolling it out: The following four weeks

Now that you’ve got a heck of a plan in place, it’s time to roll it all out. The crowdfunding part of your whole journey should be a short and sharp exercise. Crowdfunding is a small window of time that should inspire urgency and intrigue and it is this which will ensure a buzz of activity around your campaign.

Not only is it naturally difficult to sustain the necessary momentum and dedication, but any longer than four weeks and you may find that your Crowd (current and potential supporters) will start to switch off and become disengaged.

Good to know: Twin peaks

So you’ve hit the middle point of your four weeks and it seems that support has dramatically slowed down. Well, I want to assure you that this is more common than you may think.

Traditionally in crowdfunding, we tend to see a peak of activity at the beginning, a lull in the middle and another peak towards the end of a campaign. And why? Because there isn’t the same sense of urgency in the middle – it’s as simple as that. Therefore, the challenge is to make sure that there is enough activity taking place in this middle section to ensure that you maintain the levels of engagement within your audience and the momentum towards your target.

Furthermore, to capitalise on the natural peaks at the beginning and end of your campaign, it’s important to make sure that the engagement here is as high as possible. Communications around each of these periods should be ramped up to full volume to drive people towards your Crowdfunder project page.

Below is a prime example of the kind of pledge activity that we see happening on a successful project, and you’ll notice the huge increase on the first and last day of the amount of pledges being made.

Make a schedule: Your crowdfunding plan

To make sure that you have got all bases covered, I would recommend creating a crowdfunding calendar. This should include all of the necessary daily and weekly activities that you’ll need to implement to capture the attention of your audience and sustain their interest.

If you have a plan in place for each of the key channels, then you can make sure that you are firing on all cylinders and effectively marketing your crowdfunding campaign.

What are the main channels? This might include phone, email, social media, traditional media, your projects update tab (to keep all of your current supporters in the loop) and events. Not all of these channels will be effective for your idea, but you can decide on your approach during the planning period of your crowdfunding journey.

Crowdfunding is hard work

The bottom line is that crowdfunding is a lot of work because it requires consistent attention throughout. My advice would be to allocate enough time to it and to save your holiday until after its finished! You’d be surprised the amount of people that go on holiday whilst their project is running, and you’ll definitely appreciate it more if you wait until the hard work is over. After all, it is a relatively small period of time that has a clear start and end date, so if you can focus your attention and energies throughout, then you can sit back afterwards and take a break knowing that you have managed to achieve more in a month than you might have in a whole year!


Planning a press release for your Crowdfunder

You’ve got a great project, but how do you get that all important coverage?

One of the key ingredients to launching a successful crowdfunding project is to make sure that you are not just making a lot of noise about your project, but to ensure that this noise is as effective as possible. As true believers in the power of the crowd, we think that connecting people and resources to make ideas happen is the best approach to keep in mind when planning your crowdfunding project. By working together, human beings can achieve incredible things – and you can have a lot of fun with your PR in the process!

Most importantly, as we say to all project owners, don’t ever underestimate the power of social media and press coverage. You can connect with local papers and notable figures (don’t be shy!) via Facebook and Twitter to get a real buzz going around your project.

If it’s relevant to your project, you can go one step further and get in touch with the local, or even national, press to gain some serious coverage. How do you go about this? You can use search engines to find the details that you require to contact various media outlets – this is a great way to form your own press list.

Local news reporting companies are a great resource to help build momentum and target potential backers. We know that this can seem scary, but they will be waiting to hear from you (and often saves them going out to find the story themselves!)

Don’t forget that it’s always a good idea to have some high-quality images to hand as a newspaper loves to put a photo to a story. Also, be sure to chase them – it’s important to follow up on that juicy press release you sent over with another email in a couple of days, if you hear nothing in the first instance.

So, now we’ve dropped the term ‘press release’, what exactly should you include?


This needs to be catchy and sum up exactly what you’re doing. Make sure your project name is in there and remember to include your location.

For example: ‘Manchester based ‘project title’ launch ‘what your project is about’ to raise ‘x amount’.

First Paragraph

A one-sentence paragraph/opening statement that gets straight to the point. Think about this sentence as the one you will use if you had 30 seconds to explain your project. Remember to include your project name, what you need the money for and how much you want.

For example: ‘Project title’, need ‘x amount’ to help them …’

Next Two Paragraphs

Now it’s time to explain your project in a little more detail. Your headline and first paragraph will be so punchy, that everyone will want to know why they should back your project! Outline what exactly the money is being used for. Explain your project in more detail – it’s okay to use information from your project page.

For example: ‘The ‘x amount’ raised through crowdfunding will be used for …’


It’s now time to get a really interesting quote in there, that stands as a testimonial to your idea. Make sure that you use your quote to say how important your project is and why people should pledge. Always make sure the quote is from the project owner, or someone influential.

For example: ‘Your name, your title’, said: We believe that ‘project title’ is a great project that will benefit the local community. The ‘x amount’ of money we are hoping to raise through crowdfunding will enable us to …’

Last Paragraph

This is the time to really sell your project and sum it all up. Mention your rewards, or the impact your idea will have on a greater scale and remember to put the URL to your project page.

For example: ‘Project title’ are offering some great rewards, for ‘x amount’ you can get etc…’ OR ‘Project title’ will have a huge impact on the community by…’


5 things you need to know before crowdfunding

So you’ve had a great idea and you know that it’s going to have an incredible impact on those around you and your community, but now you need the funds to make that idea happen – and word on the street is that crowdfunding can do just that.

It’s true. Crowdfunding is an excellent way of raising the funds needed to transform an idea, and can bring with it many other benefits such as raising awareness of your brand/organisation, gaining validation from the Crowd that they think your idea is a great one too and, once your project has successfully closed, you’ll have your very own Crowd of supporters joining in on your journey with you.

The thing is, however, that not all ideas are suited to crowdfunding – perhaps because the idea needs some development before it can be launched into the world, or you simply haven’t told anyone about it yet (and you need people to support your project!) In fact, the most common question that we get asked by new projects is, ‘Will my project successfully crowdfund?’

The team have put their heads together, and we think that it really comes down to these five things.

1. Can you reach enough people?

It is really important to have your own Crowd to get the ball rolling. What we mean by this is an engaged audience – whether this be via social media, an email database, or through conversation.

Facebook: Having a thriving Facebook page or group is a big step in the right direction for anyone looking to crowdfund. If you’re looking to raise over £2,000, we would really expect to see a Facebook page with a following of 500+ who are really engaging with your posts.

Email: Having a group of people that you can email is a fantastic way to reach lots of people and spread the word. To raise over £2,000, a list of over 500 people is a good starting point.

Real world: Although crowdfunding is online, the best way to ask someone to pledge is either face to face or on the phone. Holding events, like a launch party for example, is a great way to get people in a room and tell them all about your project, as well as being an opportunity to answer any questions.

2. Is your idea good enough?

Ideas have the unique potential to change the world, but it’s a good idea to test the idea out with some people first and find out if they would back your project. If so, how much would they be willing to pledge?

The answers that you get back from people can really help you to sculpt your project description and video, as well as give you an idea about whether your target is realistic.

3. Do I need to add rewards?

There are lots of different types of crowdfunding, but this is both a rewards and donation based crowdfunding platform. Therefore, yes! Add rewards to your project. Rewards are a great way of increasing the amount of money a supporter will pledge and it’s a great way for generating excitement around your project.

More often than not, a potential supporter will have an amount they want to give in their head before they even land on your project page, and good rewards (exclusive and good value for money) can help them to make a decision to pledge more.

When planning your rewards, make sure that you cover all types of budget by having rewards starting from as little as £10 – give everyone a chance to get involved.

4. How much can you raise?

Whilst there is no limit to the amount you can raise, we recommend crowdfunding for a realistic target that will enable you to make your idea happen. The amount that you can raise will come down to how big your current Crowd is and how popular your idea is with new supporters.

The average pledge made on a crowdfunding project (using ‘all or nothing’ funding) is £50. Therefore, a project looking to raise £2,000 will need around 40 people to make a pledge.

It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone who sees your project will make a pledge, so you should be looking to get over 800 people (on average, 1 in 20 people make a pledge) to the page to achieve a target of £2,000.

5. Make sure that you get off to a good start

No one wants to be the first to arrive to a party, and it’s just the same with crowdfunding – nobody wants to be the first to pledge! Make sure that you line up the first 10 supporters (friends and family) to pledge when you go live.

It’s a good idea to hold back on promoting your project on social media and in emails until you have 10% already pledged on your project page; it makes it much more appealing for potential supporters if they can already see others getting behind your great idea.

Success stories

2019 – the year we decided to mix things up

We all know good things come in threes, that’s why we made the prize pot our biggest so far in 2019; dishing out £70,000 to lucky rural community projects. Applications opened in March and we saw an astounding 325 projects apply to the fund over the 8 week application period. 

We saw a wide variety of applications come forward; some ideas were weird, some wacky, but all were inspirational. From the buzz of a beehive fully equipped for over 80 beekeepers, to the calming hues of a refurbished living room for those living with Alzhemier’s and Dementia, Calor’s Rural Community Fund was attracting hundreds of projects from all over the country. 

Prizes available

Not only was our prize pot the biggest we’d ever had, but so was the number of prizes we were giving out! The £70,000 prize pot was broken down into three funding categories: £5,000, £2,500 and £1,000. We made as much noise in rural communities as possible to encourage projects to apply and make sure they didn’t miss out on their chance to with a share.

Crowdfunder partnership

As well as providing top prizes, we wanted to give rural communities the best chance we could to raise money for their local project. This is why we partnered with Crowdfunder to offer projects the chance to raise even more money through match funding. Many projects grabbed this opportunity with both hands, and saw their projects come to life.


Once we’d asked the public to vote for their favourite projects, we had 42 shortlisted finalists making it through to the next stage, and it was now over to the judges!

The judges, made up of representatives from Mind, our corporate charity, Business in the Community, Crowdfunder, Plunkett and Rural England had the extremely tricky task of whittling our 42 finalists down to 21 winners; they assessed project applications based on four factors: Impact (40%) Sustainability (35%), Submission (15%) and Originality (10%). 

The competition was extremely tight in attempts to win a share of the £70,000 prize pot, however, the moment we’d all been waiting for… drum roll please…. The winners for 2019 were announced!

Somerford Keynes Village Lake 

Gloucestershire | £5,000

Their small village lake is a quiet space, an oasis of tranquillity. The community uses the area as a safe space which can be enjoyed by families of all ages.

Their funding has been used to improve the biodiversity of the site and make it more interesting/educational for children and families.

Refurbishment of Tafarn yr Heliwr

Gwynedd | £5,000

The pub had always been used by a variety of community groups, but had become an eyesore on the High Street. The funding was used to give the pub a complete refurb; by giving it a paint, updating the lights and signs and purchasing flower post and a bench, the pub tidied up the street and helped boost the moral in the community.

A Modern, Safe Drainage System for our Community Shop

Wiltshire | £5,000

The Community Shop is a business run for and by the community. They have a large team of volunteers who work in the shop. The grant helped them to provide the staff and volunteers with hygienic WC facilities. This facilitated them in developing café style services in the future by providing a toilet for public use. 

New Infrastructure for Abergynolwyn Children’s Play Area

Gwynedd | £5,000

The aim of their project was to revitalise their younger community in the old Welsh mining village of Abergynolwyn, now a centre for tourism. The village wanted to drive increased use of the Children’s Play Area, attracting more young families to the village.

The funding provided the community with the development of new infrastructure in the children’s playground, providing safe flooring for the main area.

Manton Community Outdoors

Wiltshire | £5,000

A team of 5 local mums set up this project to redevelop and extend the small, outdated village playground. The funding provided an opportunity for the village to extend the current play area and replace the old equipment with new, exciting play structures made from natural materials that complement the surroundings. They were also able to purchase sports and fitness equipment for older children, teenagers and adults, providing a space that is accessible to and utilised by everyone.

“The Living Room”

Dumfries and Galloway | £5,000

Those living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s need a place to go and to be within a comfortable setting to allow much needed interaction. The grant has enabled a complete re-decoration of the room; using calming colours on the walls, along with a number of memory boards created for stimulus and interaction. The room will also be fitted with a small kitchen and suitable furnishings to make it like any modern day rest home.

See and Be Seen

Wiltshire | £5,000

See and Be seen are a group of volunteers who help when a crisis arises in the community. The funding has gone towards the purchase of torches and helmet lights for their water rescue teams, hi vis clothing for their search teams and a camera and monitor to assist with riverbank searches and to see over walls and hedges. They also purchased signal flare packs for use with coastguard helicopter training and operations. All equipment requested for this project will massively assist the team during their searches for vulnerable people and help them to save lives.


Norfolk | £5,000

In an area of rural deprivation, FenSong wanted to give children the opportunity an experience they would not otherwise have. The group teaches children performing arts where they can learn to dance, mime, puppetry, song and much more. With the funding they received, they have purchased 5 portable keyboards and a lighting and sound desk, so the children can continue to boost their confidence and boost the sense of community in an isolated area.

HART Wildlife Rescue

Hampshire | £5,000

HART is a community hospital providing rescue, treatment and rehabilitation services for wildlife in Hampshire. With their winnings, they’re purchasing a custom made building, installation, heating and electrics for within the building, which will allow them to continue the great work they do in their community.

Corevedale centre for children – our new polytunnel

Shropshire | £2,500

Their vision was to create a new vegetable, herb and wildlife garden at their nursery, pre-school and children’s centre, with the intent to provide fresh produce grown straight to the children’s school dinners. The grant will fund the construction of a new polytunnel, raised beds, fruit trees, fencing and more; and will teach the children the importance of growing fresh produce, the skills of nurture and patience, as well as providing habitats for important wildlife.

Ogwell Youth FC – Community DWC – Accessibility for all

Devon | £2,500

The community was in immediate need for a DWC at their football club. With the grant, they bought this wish to life; installing a DWC, basin, handrails and a new door with RADAR compatible lock. They used the remaining funds to improve the facilities at the club.

Ilmington Community Shop Chiller Project

Warwickshire | £2,500

Ilmington’s Community Shop is the hub of the local community. With the grant they were awarded, they purchased a brand new temperature controlled fruit and veg chiller, improving the shelf life and quality of the food they store, in turn reducing the waste they produce.

Squirrel Wood Scout Camp

South Yorkshire | £2,500

Squirrel Wood is 72 acres of natural woodland with open grassed areas for camping, used by a number of scout groups and girl guides. With the funding, they purchased new tables and chairs for their indoor accommodation, as the ones they had were rapidly deteriorating and becoming unusable.

The Friends of Queens Park Community Group Craig y Don

Gwynedd | £2,500

The main aim of this project is to maintain and enhance the Queens Park for the benefit of the wider community. They applied for the funding so they could replace the safety area beneath their most popular piece of essential play equipment, their zip wire. 

The Transformational Thriplow Tree

Hertfordshire | £2,500

Thriplow’ s Tree is a mural in the central school stairwell which promotes personal and social awareness and wellbeing. The investment they received was used for the plastering and re-painting of the damaged stairway to give the tree the prominence it needed. 

Apiary for rearing Queen bees

Cumbria | £1,000

The aim of this project was to improve the Queen rearing process and develop the skills of the Cumbrian beekeepers. The funding has gone towards material for build new beehives, storage and bee suits for the beekeepers. It will help raise healthy, appropriate strains of bees to withstand the wet, cold conditions in Cumbria and offset the decline in bee stocks.

Blackout blinds for Holbeton Village Hall

Devon | £1,000

Those in an isolated community in Devon needed blackout blinds in their village hall to bring people together for local events such as film nights. The grant funded the blackout blinds for the 7 windows and now the community is thriving.

Equipment for conservation volunteers

Shropshire | £1,000

An ever-increasing group of volunteers in Shropshire applied for funding for more equipment and a trailer to safely carry the tools they need from site to site. The group undertake conservation tasks in over 40 areas within their community; a main one being the planting hedges, sowing seeds, pruning trees and clearing brambles in the local churchyard. The grant got them the appropriate tools to continue their good work.

Modernising the Village Hall Kitchen Facilities

Kent | £1,000

The village hall needed a reliable cooker in their kitchen to enable users of the hall to serve hot food at events if required. With their £1,000 grant, they purchased a Smeg Ceramic Range cooker so they can continue to cater for a variety of events.

Thrive Room to support children’s social and emotional wellbeing

Suffolk | £1,000

This project works with young people who need support and helps develop their social and emotional wellbeing. The grant has funded equipment for the Thrive Room such as building toys, Lego, toys, games, puppets, craft activities and much more, which will now enable the group to thrive even more.

Success stories

2018 – bigger and better

Calor’s Rural Community Fund was launched back in 2017 to improve the lives of those living in rural, off-grid areas, by providing them with the opportunity to receive a grant that would benefit their community. 

We were incredibly proud that the funding we previously donated to worthy causes had been used to make a difference to local groups and residents: from children to the elderly, through to the vulnerable and the fit and the healthy – there was a project for everyone. However, our work didn’t stop there. In 2018, to make sure that we could help even more communities who aren’t connected to the mains gas grid, we decided to double the Rural Community Fund pot from £20,000 to £50,000.

More prizes

Applications opened in March, and once again, applicants had two months to submit their entries. More than 200 projects applied for the available funding; with the prizes being broken down into the following: five top grants of £5,000, six totalling £2,500 and ten to the amount of £1,000. From the Orkney Islands to Penzance, we saw a wide variety of organisations apply for funds to renovate outdoor play and nature areas, buy vital equipment, improve much-needed facilities, teach essential life skills, restore community landmarks, access musical traditions, and help community members to get together. 

Voting begins

When the public started to vote for their favourite projects to help them get through to the final shortlist, we watched as 182,604 votes were cast in the space of just one month on Calor’s Rural Community Fund website. As per the year before, the projects with the highest votes in each funding category were shortlisted as finalists.

The shortlist

Out of the 216 projects that applied for the funding, 40 were shortlisted. They were then scored by a panel of independent judges made up of representatives from the national mental health charity, Mind, Business in the Community, Rural Services Network and Calor. 

The panel of judges then faced the hard task of going through the shortlisted projects, scoring and working out which particular entries would receive funding across the regions, with winners being announced on 20th July 2018.

The winners

Roger and Geraldine from Shutford Hall, winners of 2017’s Rural Community Fund, presented the 21 winners with their prizes live on Facebook. Each and every one of these funds has gone on to benefit the wider community now and in the years to come.

East Worlington School Garden Project 

Devon | £5,000

Rejuvenating the garden, which is not usable for three months of the year due to mud, so that it can be used all year round by children and different community groups in the local area

Spaxton School Outdoor Environmental Learning Area

Somerset | £5,000

Restoring the pond and pergola to provide a suitable outdoor area for primary school children to learn about nature.

New Kitchen for the Clubhouse at Ely Outdoor Sports Association

Cambridgeshire | £5,000

The grant was used to provide a hygienic working kitchen so that the clubhouse can be used for match teas, local social events, community meetings and fitness groups.

Dochas extension

Argyll and Bute | £5,000

£5,000 donation went towards relaying the flooring at the Dochas Centre which provides much needed support and information to carers in the local area.

Orkney Isles Music Instrument Bank

Orkney Islands | £5,000

Setting up a musical instrument bank so that local residents can borrow the instruments for free and learn how to play traditional Orcadian music.

Castlethorpe Sports Ground extension of car park

Buckinghamshire | £2,500

Increasing the number of parking spaces so that parents and children can make their way safely to and from the playing pitches.

Mount Hawke Academy Outdoor Adventure Playground

Cornwall | £2,500

Providing an adventure play area for children at the school and in the community to use in a deprived area.

Buckland Dinham Village Hall Facelift

Somerset | £2,500

Repainting parts of the village hall, built in 1880, and now used daily by many village groups and the wider community.

Inverie Primary School Playground Revamp

Highland | £2,500

Revamping the school’s playground, which serves a very small community of around 120 full-time residents. 


Kent | £2,500

Replacing kitchen equipment to continue providing cookery lessons and social activities for people on low incomes, older people and vulnerable members of the community.

Referees showers

Devon | £2,500

Providing separate shower facilities for referees at the rugby club, which run both adult and junior teams.

Tarbert Toppers Junior Sailing Club

Argyll and Bute | £1,000

Purchasing a SailQube dinghy, so that children can learn how to sail in a fun and safe environment, without the usual prohibitive financial costs.  

Buckland Primary School community pond

Somerset | £1,000

Installing a non-slip surface that is accessible year-round and wheelchair friendly, so that the school children, as well as the local community, can enjoy the pond inside and outside of school hours.

Inchmarlo Village Hall Overhead Projector

Aberdeenshire | £1,000

Purchase a fixed overhead projector for existing community groups to use in the hall, and to expand the hall’s usage to cater for talks and show children’s films too.

Hartington Rural Social Group

Derbyshire | £1,000

Purchase of chairs with arm rests to assist the elderly who take part in the group when settling and rising from seating. Also replacement and relocation of two defunct sockets in the kitchen to better provide refreshments for the 18 user groups who use the same village hall.

Defibrillator Project for North East Wales Search & Rescue (NEWSAR)

Denbighshire | £1,000

Purchase of defibrillators for NEWSAR team members to use when they are first on scene, delivering life-saving treatment in remote areas.

Rocking Ukuleles of St Ives

Cambridgeshire | £1,000

Purchase of audio equipment so that the group can continue to perform at charity events and help raise money for local good causes and charities. 

Stockton Community Bus Shelters

Norfolk | £1,000

Purchase of concrete bases for two bus shelters in the village.

Indoor and Outdoor Cooking Skills

Northumberland | £1,000

Purchase of cooking ingredients and equipment to enable the local scout group to learn cooking skills, hygiene and nutrition, and enable them to run a restaurant in the village which will teach them key skills such as time management and budgeting.

Scole Nature Trail Trust

Norfolk | £1,000

Provision of seating, benches and picnic tables in the parkland.

Kilsby War Memorial Restoration 

West Midlands | £1,000

Materials and labour for the restoration of the war memorial.