Westray Parish Church on the island of Westray in the Orkney Isles has become the 5th congregation to gain an Eco-Congregation Scotland Gold Award.
Westray Parish Church had applied for a silver award. However when the assessors visited them they realised that the work being done by the congregation far exceeded that standard and decided that they should be given their Gold Award. The congregation have been especially commended by the assessors for the way the church has been leading the community through involvement in island wide energy projects such as installing a community owned wind turbine and a project with Lottery and Scottish Government grant funding which worked to identify the 9 houses on Westray most severely affected by fuel poverty and energy inefficency. The project took them out of fuel poverty by installing ground source heat pumps, double glazing, extra insulation and draft proofing in each home. The activity of Fair Trade Group, under the Chairmanship of the minister resulted in Westray being recognised as a Fair Trade island in 2007.
The award assessors noted the great connections that the church has with their local community and their commitment to Eco-Congregation Scotland which now spans over 20 years. They were impressed with the legacy fund that the congregation have made available to other Orkney Parish Churches. This fund has allowed other churches to proceed with their own eco work. The assessors said that Westray Parish Church is a case study of how to do it. Amazing and inspirational!
Westray Parish Eco-Congregation co-ordinator Alasdair McVicar said: “This should be a source of great pride for the congregation and it’s very fine to have good news during these strange times but we know it’s an ongoing commitment and we welcome that”.
Parish Minister, Iain MacDonald added: “It’s lovely to have something to celebrate collectively but these awards should never be seen as something to stick on the wall so we can sit back and admire them but as an incentive to us all to maintain the high standards and to build on them”.
Well done Westray! A well deserved Gold Award.