Community projects benefit from solar park fund

Wiltshire Community Foundation’s Science Museums Group Wroughton Solar Park Community Benefit Fund, has awarded more than £57,000 to local community projects which support STEM subjects as well as habitat conservation, health and play.

Chiseldon Primary and Nursery School has been awarded almost £26,000 towards building what is believed to be the UK’s first renewable energy playground. It is designed to teach pupils about sustainable power and will feature a wind turbine and two solar panels to show the impact of the weather.

Chairman of governors Emily Gravestock said: “We want the playground to encourage the children to be more active but it will also teach them STEM subjects at the same time, which is something the school is passionate about. It’s a way of sparking children’s interest in something that will make a real difference to their future. The grant will make a phenomenal difference because we would simply not be able to do this with standard school funds. The fact that the bulk of what we need has been provided for us means we can actually achieve something which has been a dream of the school for a while.”

The Washpool Area Restoration Project in Chiseldon has been awarded £10,700 to carry out major improvements to pathways to allow a popular part of the beauty spot to stay open. The Washpool, an historic pool at the bottom of a deep valley, created by farmers to wash livestock in medieval times, has been looked after by the community group since 2006. Volunteers have cleared rubbish and overgrown bushes and installed fencing, hedging, gates, wildlife ponds and boardwalks.

The grant will be used to replace the rotting boardwalks with landscaping and gravel paths. The group’s chairman Hilary Howe said: ”I was really wondering what on earth we would do if we couldn’t find the funding to replace it because to take the stretches of boardwalk out would knock such a hole in the whole project, so this grant is pretty vital.”

The group will also improve signage and an access track to the site and create an inflow from the nearby stream into a children’s dipping pond to allow hands-on nature lessons.

Wroughton and Wichelstowe Parochial Church Council has been awarded £20,000 to carry out essential repairs to Wroughton Parish Hall so that it remains economic to run and usable for Wroughton Pre-School, which books it five days a week.

The council plans to add solar panels to the roof of the former infants school, parts of which date back to 1875, and add insulation between the roof and ceiling to reduce its energy costs by £500 a year.

Wiltshire Community Foundation joint chief executive Fiona Oliver said: “We are very proud to work in partnership with Science Museums Group Wroughton to fund local projects which focus on STEM subjects as well as habitat conservation, health or play. The brilliant projects awarded grants this year will not only bring great benefit to the community but also the environment.”

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