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.