Kirkmuirhill Community Centre & Men’s Shed sees the light

Thornton Road Community Community Centre (TRCCA) and its Men’s Shed have scooped a major prize for their plans to decarbonise their energy use.

Their project to install solar panels and storage batteries, as well as providing charging points for mobile phones and electric bikes, saw them win the Best Decarbonisation Project at the Falck Renewables Sustainable Communities Annual Forum. The Awards Dinner and Forum, held this year in Dunblane, brings together communities who live near Falck’s 12 wind farms across the UK. Kirkmuirhill lies close to Auchrobert wind farm.

The award provides a contribution of £6,000 towards the project which Thornton Road Community Centre Association believe will save them at least £1,000 per year in energy costs.

Dennis White from TRCCA said they were delighted to receive the award: “We were really pleased with this recognition. It will make a big difference to the community and particularly the Men’s Shed which helps prevent social isolation amongst men who have retired.

“We’ve always found Falck Renewables to be very supportive of what we are trying to achieve, and it’s always been a privilege to be invited to the Forum and learn more about what other communities are doing.”

30 PV Solar panels, with inverter and storage batteries, will be installed at the centre, as well as a charging point for electric cars – the only one within 5 miles. Two electric bikes will be made available for use by members of the community. Local people will also be able to power their mobile phones/tablets while visiting the centre, using the green energy. The aim is to halve the use of energy from non-renewable sources.

Richard Dibley, MD of Falck Renewables Wind in the UK said: “We were hugely impressed by this project which will increase the use of green energy in the centre, encourage the use of electric transport, but also save money for the centre which can be used on other projects in the community.”

The Community Centre was purchased by the TRCCA Board in 2018, partly funded by a grant from the Auchrobert Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund. In 2019, they purchased a large cabin container which has been transformed into a very successful Men’s Shed.

Thornton Road Community Centre is run by a group of local volunteers who manage the building and run a series of events during the year including an Over 60s Club, a Youth Club and exercise and Ipad classes for older people. The centre is currently used for a range of activities from Gaelic classes to three weekly cafes.

Kirkmuirhill and Blackwood Men’s Shed (KBMS) stands in the grounds of the Centre. Although owned by TRCCA, the Shed is run by a dedicated committee who are also local volunteers and who work closely with TRCCA.