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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here at Calor, we’re so passionate about the rural British countryside. From its rolling vistas to its serene and tranquil ambiance, there’s really no place better. But we know living in rural areas doesn’t come without its challenges – and that’s why we decided to give something back.
Making an impact
By giving back, we didn’t just want it to be a one off goodwill gesture. We wanted to make a real impact to rural communities and to those residing within them. We wanted to help communities to thrive, to improve, and to fundamentally remain a place where people love to live. So we thought what better way to achieve all of this than to offer a Community Fund to rural community projects that have been designed to improve local life.
In 2017, we saw the launch of the Calor Rural Community Fund. We encouraged community projects far and wide to apply for a grant of up to £5,000 from a £20,000 prize pot. These projects had to demonstrate that they were located off-grid (not connected to mains gas), would leave a lasting benefit to their community, and would improve the lives of their wider community.
Prizes available: 2 x £5000, 2 x £2,500 and 5 x £1000
Applications opened in March and we excitedly watched as community project applications began rolling in. And by the end of the application stage we’d received a total of 127 entries! From the weird, the wacky and the wonderful, the variety of different projects were a delight to read.
Over to the public
Then it was down to the public to shortlist these projects, to help them get through to the finals. Each and every person that registered on the Calor Rural Community Fund website received a total of 10 votes, and they could use these votes to support one or more of their favourite projects. The projects with the highest votes in each funding category were shortlisted as finalists. More than 17,000 took to their screens to cast their votes.
From the 127 community projects competing for funding, 30 were shortlisted as finalists from the public. These projects were then presented to our panel of impartial judges for final scoring.
Celebrating the winners
On the 12th July 2017, we announced our first ever Calor Rural Community Fund winners! A total of nine communities were granted funding, and this money has gone on to leave lasting benefits for their local people.
The winners were:
35th South West Cheshire Scout Centre. Provision of Heating and Hot Water
Cheshire | £5,000
35th SW Cheshire Scout Group is a successful scout group in Wistaston, Crewe, Cheshire with in excess of 120 young persons at any one time. Their former Scout Hut was rapidly deteriorating and would soon become unusable. So, they either had to find a new premises or close the group. They decided to demolish the building and replace it with a new Scout Centre, a centre which required the installation of heating and hot water. And this is where the funding from Calor came in – they used their funding to install a new LPG heating system to keep their Scouts warm and toasty. The Hut is now even used by other groups in the community.
Bude Sea Pool Community Play Equipment
Cornwall | £5,000
Bude Sea Pool is a sea water pool under the cliffs at Summerleaze Beach in Bude. It is a wonderful asset for the town, attracting thousands of visitors and local residents to use the safe sea-water environment every year. Their funding was used to purchase safe play equipment so that more children could learn to play in a safe and supervised way.
New kitchen for Shutford Village Hall
Oxfordshire | £2,500
Shutford has a population of 450 people who are community-minded and enjoy doing things together. The village has no shop or bus service so relies heavily on community involvement by using our village hall. The village runs an annual Festival, bingo events, harvest festivals, theatre shows, carol singing, book clubs, musical performances and other events that Shutford people contribute towards and enjoy greatly. To improve the Hall’s catering facilities, the community used their funding to upgrade their kitchen into something much more functional.
Fibre Broadband access for Lapford
Devon | £2,500
The local fibre broadband funding through Connecting Devon & Somerset has only been sufficient to fibre-enable the distribution cabinet closest to the exchange, which is some 1.5km away from the centre of the village, down by the main road. This means that 65% of the properties in the village and, most importantly, the primary school, cannot access superfast broadband. Although a grant from central government was provided to cover major parts of the install cost, there was still a shortfall left to pay. And thanks to the Rural Community Fund, the community was able to utilise their winnings to finally get connected.
Herts and Essex Community Farm
Essex | £1,000
The Community Farm acts as a community growing space whereby people of all ages learn about produce growing. The Farm sees people from all walks of life and most who use the project find it therapeutic and relaxing. Their funding allowed the group to purchase of a new safe BBQ area, this helps them with their fundraising events which take place throughout the year.
Community First Responder Kit
Bedfordshire | £1,000
Known locally as the Community First Responder Group, this group of volunteers support the East of England ambulance service. The funding enabled the group to purchase a new lifesaving kit which is vital when attending and treating some of the most life threatening of injuries.
New stage piano for Buckden Singers community choir
North Yorkshire | £1,000
The Buckden Singers is a four-part, non-auditioned community choir based in the tiny Yorkshire Dales village of Buckden, in Upper Wharfedale. In the remote villages of the Yorkshire Dales, people have to make their own entertainment. And from humble beginnings, Buckden Singers has enabled more than 75 people – many of whom have had no previous experience of singing – to come together and make music, for their own pleasure, and for the entertainment of local people. The funding was used to purchase a much-need new stage piano so they could continue their performances.
Diptford School Library Project
Devon | £1,000
Diptford School is a small school in rural South Devon. The school library is popular but small. It takes 20 minutes to drive to the nearest local library so for most of the children the school library is the only one they can readily access. The funding was used to purchase new books for their library, enabling children to improve their reading skills. The new books also supported the schools ‘Accelerator Reader’ programme!
The Park, Kilnwick – the creation of a new park combining educational and recreational elements.
East Riding of Yorkshire | £1,000
“The Park, Kilnwick” is a charitable project to transform a piece of agricultural land into a recreational asset for all ages within the community, enhancing health and well-being. Support from Calor Rural Community Fund allowed the purchase of a “team swing.” This “inclusive” piece of play equipment with a basket seat, allows groups of young people to play together, including those with special needs. It encourages team work whilst developing co-ordination and balance.