Barrow-based enterprise, The Schools’ Energy Co-operative Ltd, has scooped a prestigious national business accolade – taking home the prize for the Inspiring Co-op of the Year at the Co-operative of the Year Awards.
Members of the co-op were presented with their award at a gala dinner during Co-op Congress, the sector’s annual conference, which was celebrating its landmark 150th year.
Organised by sector body Co-operatives UK and supported by The Co-operative Bank, the annual awards are a celebration of excellence and achievement in the co-op sector.
The Schools’ Energy Co-op Ltd was launched in 2014 to provide community sourced funding for solar panel systems on schools. It has since installed panels on 48 schools all over the country, providing them with a sustainable solar-powered electricity supply and engaging both the local community and students in its projects.
Laura Moreno from The Schools’ Energy Co-operative, said: “We are thrilled to receive the award and the recognition of our work helping schools to tackle climate change by generating green energy on their roofs.”
The co-op scooped the prize after a public vote which saw numerous organisations and individuals shortlisted in six categories. A record 33,000 votes were cast, with nominations and votes coming from large and small businesses, members, customers and co-operators across the sector.
The record year for the awards also saw the introduction of two new categories for individual co-operators: the Co-operator of the Year Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Other winners were The Co-op Group, South Tyneside Council and Bristol Wood Recycling Project. Individual awards went to Leeds Bread Co-op’s Lorraine Power for Co-operator of the Year, and Daily Bread Co-op founder Roger Sawtell, who won the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, said: “The Co-op of the Year Awards is always a special occasion. And once again, worthy winners have taken home the coveted prizes. The Schools’ Energy Co-operative Ltd – and all our winners and nominees – are an outstanding example of how working co-operatively creates opportunity, prosperity and meaningful work, and brings social and economic benefits to communities and businesses throughout the country.”
Maria Cearns Managing Director, Current Accounts and Savings from sponsors The Co-operative Bank, said: “What a great evening celebrating the achievements of a number of co-op organisations over the last year. A huge well done to all the nominees – for doing valuable, essential work growing the UK’s co-operative economy and using the power of co-operation to enable businesses to flourish in a fair and equitable way. Congratulations to the winners who thoroughly deserved their awards.”