Protective equipment pledge fulfilled as wind farm marks 15 years since first public meeting

Point and Sandwick Trust have completed delivery of protective face visors to all care homes and hospitals in the Western Isles.

By Katie Laing
Monday, 22nd June 2020, 10:43 am
Beinn Ghrideag has been a great success in financial terms, as well as benefitting the wider region and bolstering the 
community's confidence.  Image by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos
Beinn Ghrideag has been a great success in financial terms, as well as benefitting the wider region and bolstering the community's confidence. Image by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos

The kit has now been supplied for the seven local authority care homes, three private care homes and the three hospitals in Stornoway, Benbecula and Barra.

Tony Robson, PST’s engineering consultant, delivered the final batches of visors to Bethesda Care Home and Hospice and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar last Wednesday – a move which came almost 15 years to the day after the community wind farm organisation held its first public meeting.

Calum Macdonald, the former Western Isles MP who developed Point and Sandwick Trust’s wind farm at Beinn Ghrideag, said it was satisfying to see the positive impacts that have resulted from their success in developing the 100 per cent community owned wind farm.

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He said: “This project shows the benefits of partnership working – in this case between PST and Lews Castle College – as well as the benefits of being able to return the profits generated by the wind farm back to the community.”

RETURNING WIND FARM PROFITS TO THE COMMUNITY

As previously reported, PST and staff at Lews Castle College have created the protective visors by producing plastic headbands in a 3D printer at the college’s Innovation Centre.

This special printer was bought when PST sponsored the expansion of the Innovation Centre with the donation of £20,000 and around 500 of these headbands have now been produced and distributed.

The headbands are turned into visors by the addition of disposable plastic sheets which clip on to the headbands to form face shields. PST and the College worked with NHS Western Isles and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to make these visors – the headbands plus many packs of disposable sheets – available for all frontline health and care workers in the Western Isles.

Tony Robson said it was “a pleasure” to have worked on the project with college staff, especially engineering lecturer Iain F Macdonald, who managed the printing of the PPE.

“It’s been good, working together and doing something which is clearly appreciated and assisting in this difficult situation,” said Tony.

Donald McIntosh, manager of Blar Buidhe Care Home in Stornoway, thanked PST and Lews Castle College for the provision of the visors.

“It’s a great help to all the staff working in Blar Buidhe, enabling us to keep safe and keep well while providing care to our residents. It’s hugely appreciated and being put to good use.”

Calum Macdonald said the response to the pandemic had demonstrated the wind farm has delivered a new community resilience.

He said: “Everybody recognises that Beinn Ghrideag has been a great success in financial terms and well worth the decade of effort that went before, building the wind farm.

COMMUNITY CONFIDENCE

“But what’s also obvious now is that the community has gained in many other ways, in terms of general confidence and capacity.

“The self-belief in the community has been boosted and a good proof of that is the terrific work that we did with the Lews Castle College in producing the PPE visors for all the hospitals and care homes in the Western Isles.

“Not only did we have the 3D printer available, which we had funded, but we also had the organisational capacity to use it to provide essential kit for the whole of the Western Isles.

“We would never have dreamed of organising something like that before, but now we have the confidence and the capacity to step into the breach ourselves when something like the coronavirus pandemic happens and not just wait for official agencies to do something.”

It is not an outcome that Calum could have envisaged when he was addressing the first public meeting of the newly incorporated Point and Sandwick Power almost exactly 15 years ago – in Bayble School on June 14, 2005 – but it could not be more welcome.

“All my best hopes and ambitions for the wind farm have borne fruit, have been delivered. So I’m really delighted that, 15 years on, we can say that all the effort – all that hard struggle in the first 10 years – was really worthwhile.”

He continues to hope that it will serve as an inspiration to others about what is possible.

“My only sadness is that other villages, like Melbost, Aignish, Sandwick East and Sandwick North, are prevented from developing community turbines on their own common grazings in the same way.”