Point and Sandwick Trust, the charity behind the award-winning Beinn Ghrideag community wind farm, has handed over a cheque for £25,000 to Bethesda — and has pledged to give the care home and hospice a total of £55,000 every year for the next 25 years.
It is the biggest pledge that Bethesda has ever received in its 25-year history and means that, for the first time, staff can count on getting a good cash injection every six months to shore up their fundraising efforts.
Finance officer and fundraiser DR Macdonald received the cheque from Point and Sandwick Trust last Wednesday (November 2) at an event in Ionad Stoodie. He is delighted. “We got a cheque for £25,000 and that’s the first instalment. The other £30,000 will be given in May or June next year. They have pledged £55,000 for the lifetime of the wind farm, for 25 years.”
He said: “We’ve had nothing like that since we opened. In the past, every year we just started from scratch. We did have one other big donation, over five years for £25,000 a year, but we have never had this amount.
“It means a huge amount. It’s about a tenth of what we have to raise every year. We still have to raise over £200,000 over and above that, but the good thing is we now have a cushion to start the year. It’s a big, big thing.”
This donation is the first payment to Bethesda from a pledge made by Point and Sandwick Trust with the signing of a memorandum six years before the wind farm became a reality.
Looking back, DR said: “There were various obstacles along the way. Thankfully we weren’t directly involved but the directors did a power of work behind the scenes.
“It’s early days for Point and Sandwick, because obviously they have to pay back the £14.5million that they borrowed to set it up, but over the next coming years it’s going to make a huge difference.
“We have also had the announcement that Galson Trust have increased their grants, so all these wind farms are going to make a huge difference because they are pumping money into the local economy.”
Angus McCormack, chairman of Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “We are delighted to honour our promise to Bethesda. Bethesda means so much to our community. PST is delighted to be offering solid support for the next 25 years. We see it as a very good investment and it has been uppermost in our minds since the earliest days of the project. This is a good and very satisfying partnership.”
Point and Sandwick Trust have pledged annual support to six Western Isles organisations or projects. As well as Bethesda, they are An Lanntair, Hebrides Alpha, Western Isles Foyer, plus the Croft Woodlands project throughout the islands and the LED Energy Communities scheme, which relates to Point and Sandwick and is being delivered in partnership with Tighean Innse Gall. These six will receive priority revenue support from Point and Sandwick Trust, who expect to make a profit of £500,000 a year from the three turbines at Beinn Ghrideag — the biggest community wind farm in the UK in terms of output.
Beinn Ghrideag started generating electricity in July 2015 and became fully operational in November that year. It was named Best Community Project at the Scottish Green Energy Awards last December, in recognition of outstanding performance in the Scottish renewable energy industry.
From left to right, Calum Macdonald, Point and Sandwick Power Business Manager; Duncan Mackay, Point and Sandwick Trust Vice Chairman; Angus McCormack, PST Chairman; DR Macdonald, Bethesda Fundraising Manager; Carol Summerville, Bethesda General Manager; Duncan Maclean, Bethesda Chairman: Donald John MacSween, PST General Manager