Wind farm offers covid-19 emergency lifeline

SMALL businesses based in rural areas of the district have been awarded cash injections from Vattenfall’s Ray Wind Funds ‘Covid-19 Emergency Fund.’

Inspired by her experiences working in rural South Africa where fuel poverty is a major issue, Kate Thick, from Capheaton, decided to found the Northumberland Log Bank using volunteers trained to cut and deliver logs free of charge to the elderly, frail and those experiencing fuel poverty.

Kate approached several estates and landowners to give her fallen timber. Ford and Etal Estates were the first to offer and since the charity began, other landowners have joined the scheme and the customer base has expanded.

She has recently opened another Log Bank at Haydon Bridge, and is now seeking suppliers of fallen timber and further storage spaces across the north and west of the county.

Supported by Northumberland County Council and coordinating with food banks, the project was doing well before the pandemic.

Kate explained: “We’ve had wonderful support for the Log Bank, but funds for fuel for wood collection and log deliveries have been harder to find over the recent months.

“I heard about the Ray Wind Funds Covid-19 Emergency Fund and was delighted when it responded to my application with a cash payment to keep us going until current restrictions are completely lifted.”

Kate’s initiative is growing rapidly, filling a need that other official bodies have found hard to cover. Her next objective is to install cost saving solar power at the main Log Bank at Wooler.

She added: “The Log Bank is only a year old, but already we can see real needs being met.”

 

The Demesne Farm Campsite and Bunk Barn, in Bellingham, run by Robert and Margaret Telfer, is a well established small business, welcoming Pennine Way walkers, campers and cyclists to its site in the centre of the busy village.

While accommodation bookings stalled, income dried up and the couple asked for help to implement the necessary PPE protection measures they must put in place before re-opening.

Margaret explained: “We opened the Bunk Barn 15 years ago and fitted it out to the highest standards including central heating, free wi-fi, fully equipped kitchen, drying room, secure cycle store, and barbecue area.

“We can accommodate up to 15 people or small groups in three bedrooms, but currently with no income, we urgently need to deep clean and take the necessary steps to protect our visitors.

“The Ray Wind Farm Emergency funding has been a lifeline for us right now and we hope that visitors coming to enjoy the Dark Skies in the Kielder Observatory, the lake, boating, cycling and our very special landscapes, will soon be arriving in numbers.”

Margaret added: “We rely on visitors for our income and this emergency money could not have come at a better time.”

Other local businesses currently benefitting from financial support from the Ray Wind Funds Covid-19 Emergency Fund include local schools, concert venues, boarding kennels, Northumberland National Park’s Mountain Rescue Team, Otterburn Mill, plumbers and visitor centres.

For more information about the Covid-19 Emergency Fund, contact the administrator at admin@raywindfund.co.uk, or call Jo Willis on: 07762 179579.

By Bill Edgar @CourantBill