Three Fermanagh community organisations will be able to save money during the recession and run more activities for local people in their venues thanks to a grant windfall from the Big Lottery Fund. Fermanagh organisations Cashel Community Association, the Share Discovery Village and Irvinestown Masonic Lodge 277 have been awarded grants totalling near �21,000 from the Big Lottery Fund's Energy Efficient Venues programme.
The programme, which is now closed for applications, offers Lottery cash to local groups to carry out improvements to their community venues so they make savings on their heating and lighting costs and cut down on their spending.
Share Discovery Village, an outdoor pursuits centre on the banks of Upper Lough Erne giving disabled and non-disabled people the chance to take part in a education and creative arts activities, has been awarded �46,738 to carry out a range of energy saving improvements.
Chief Executive Robert Livingstone explained that the improvements will reduce the amount of heating and electricity the centre uses, helping to cut their bills and saving them money they can put back into the activities they offer. "We have 17 chalets and a Farmhouse complex providing over 200 bed spaces. We welcome over 15,000 people each year and we the largest outdoor pursuits centre in Ireland, offering activities including sailing, climbing, canoeing, drama and pottery," said Chief Executive Robert Livingstone.
"We will be replacing the lighting in our swimming pool and external areas with energy efficient LED lighting. The centre's insulation will also be upgraded and new solar electric panels will also be installed in the pool which will feed into the grid supply. The money we save will go back into running the wide range of activities we offer that encourage people of all backgrounds and ages to mix together."
He continued: "These measures will really improve our energy efficiency. Our energy costs were just crippling us. With these improvements we will save �8,500 a year on the electricity bills for our centre.
"We already have a reed bed sewerage system, biomass boilers, three wind turbines and solar panels on our chalets. The improvements to be funded by this grant will make the centre even more energy efficient.
"We have always looked to use alternative energies and to keep an eye on the environment. We live by a beautiful lake and we want to keep it clean."
Cashel Community Association, near Kiltyclogher, has also been awarded a grant of �7,810. The money will be used to replace the existing doors in the association's hall, install a new heating system and make the building more energy efficient.
Association Secretary Louise Leonard explained the improvements will help the group reduce their energy bills and save money that can go back into running community activities.
"This association was formed in 1991 and works to improve life for the entire community," said Louise. "We run a variety of clubs and activities including bowling, badminton, senior citizens, old time dancing, whist and a summer scheme for children.
"We have a boiler that needs to be upgraded, especially with all this activity going on. It is costing us �100 a week for heating, lighting and maintenance, that's more than �5,000 a year. The new heating system is going to cut down on our oil bill, leaving us with more money to put into the activities we offer to both communities in this rural border area."
Irvinestown Masonic Lodge 277 has been awarded �3,075 to install double glazing in ten windows in its hall, allowing the group to improve the venue's energy efficiency and reduce heating costs.
Frank Hewitt, the Big Lottery Fund's NI Chair said: "The Energy Efficient Venues programme supports community organisations to carry out energy efficiency improvements to their venues that help them make savings during this difficult period of recession, and have a positive effect on the environment.
"This has been a very popular programme and we have awarded grants to a range of organisations across Northern Ireland. Organisations should be aware that the programme is now closed for applications."
The Energy Efficient Venues programme is closed for applications. To find about more about the programme visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk