April 27, 2017 | Community News
Members of a fast-growing Heysham scout troop are looking forward to more nights out under cover after a four-figure grant from a renewable energy firm paid for the renewal of its camping equipment.
The 1st Overton Scouts has been growing quickly over the last three years, with each of the beaver, cub and scout sections that make it up now having at least 20 members, as well as a waiting list being in place for other children that want to join.
The rapid increase in numbers has left the Scouts without enough tents to accommodate all the young people who want to go on their overnight and weekend camps, with the tents that are available being old and very much past their best.
Fundraising plans were being put in place to raise the money needed to update the camping equipment, but now, a £1,046 grant from the community benefits fund linked to Banks Renewables’ nearby Heysham South wind farm has enabled the Overton Scouts to buy four new four-person tents, as well as an all-weather event shelter which can be used for cooking or other outdoor activities.
The 1st Overton Scouts has been running since the mid-1960s and attracts most of its members from the village and surrounding area.
The group owns its own Scout hut and allows it to be used by other local community groups, such as an After School Club and a Yoga group to help meet its general running costs, which are otherwise funded by Scout subscriptions.
Group secretary Erika Croskery says: “All three of our sections are extremely well attended, and we’ve got lots of young people waiting to join their friends across the groups, which is excellent news for our long-term prospects.
“We try to organise regular camping trips for all the sections, but our old tents had all been repaired many times in many different places, were starting to show their age and were really needing to be replaced.
“We’ve had brilliant feedback from everyone who’s so far been away camping in the new tents, which we simply wouldn’t have been able to afford this new equipment without Banks Renewables’ support – their backing has saved us a great deal of time that we would have had to put towards fundraising activities that we can now dedicate to other things.”
A community benefits fund worth at least £300,000 across the 25-year lifespan of the Heysham South wind farm formed part of the scheme’s overall development package, and was designed to enable Banks Renewables to deliver a range of community and environmental improvements in partnership with local people.
The fund is ring-fenced for use within the parishes of Heaton-with-Oxcliffe, Heysham, Middleton and Overton, although projects in adjoining areas which benefit people living in these parishes may also be considered.
A funding committee comprised of local people and supported by a dedicated fund manager from the Banks Community Fund team sits every few months to assess the applications it receives.
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “This is an excellent example of how revenues generated by the Heysham South wind farm are being used to improve the facilities available to local people, and we hope the Overton Scouts enjoy camping out in their new tents.
“Our funding committee meets regularly to review the applications made to the fund, and we’re always keen to hear from community groups around the relevant areas on how they think the funds generated by the wind farm might best be allocated.”
The maximum single grant from the Heysham South Wind Farm community benefits fund is normally restricted to £3,000. Anyone interested in applying to the fund should contact James Eaglesham on 0191 378 6342 or via firstname.lastname@example.org to check if their group or project is eligible.