Island community wind farm company Point and Sandwick Trust was today (Wednesday May 20) named as the winner of another major UK award for social enterprise.

The Trust, which owns and operates the Beinn Ghrideag wind farm near Stornoway, is the “Environmental Champion” in the NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards 2020.

The organisation was also listed for the first time in the SE100 Index, a list of the top 100 social enterprise businesses in the UK. It was among the eight organisations from that list which received an award for being “the most outstanding achievers”.

The SE100 Index and Social Business Awards are run by NatWest (owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group) and Pioneers Post every year to “name, celebrate and learn from the UK’s 100 most impressive social enterprises”.

There were a total of eight big awards. The others recognised excellence in Growth, Impact Management, Trailblazing, Social Investment, Leadership, Resilience and Storytelling.

The SE100 judges agreed that Point and Sandwick Trust was “a clear winner” in the SE100 Environmental Champion category, as a “well-structured, impactful organisation serving the local community on a range of social and environmental fronts”.

They also noted the organisation’s focus outside its immediate locality towards the wider Hebridean islands, and were impressed by its “incredible” projects which create “such tangible impact”. 

The SE100 Index is compiled to “celebrate the growth, impact and resilience of social ventures in the UK”  and Megan Peat, CEO of NatWest Social & Community Capital, congratulated “all the social enterprises who have made it onto this year”s lists”.

She added: “In such incredibly tough times, when we know many of you will be facing some significant challenges, it’s important to recognise the incredible dedication and effort that the UK’s social enterprises have shown in building business solutions to deliver a positive future for some of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.”

Representatives warmly welcomed this latest recognition for their community project.

Calum Macdonald, development manager for Point and Sandwick Trust and former MP for the Western Isles, said: “This award recognises our success as a business as well as our impact as a charity and I am delighted for the whole PST team that has made it possible.

“We try to have an impact across a range of areas, including helping the local hospice, supporting the most vulnerable, helping local culture and arts, but the environment is one of our most important areas of work and we are delighted that this has been recognised by the NatWest awards.”

Angus McCormack, honorary president for Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “This wonderful award recognises the work of a dedicated board and very committed staff. It is well deserved and suitable recognition of the support community wind farms give to their communities. It exemplifies the community support offered during the Covid19 pandemic. I am delighted.”

Norman Mackenzie, chair of Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “We at PST were delighted when we learned that our enterprise was to be included in the NatWest Se100 For 2020 but to be named as winners in the environment category in this prestigious competition is simply amazing and beyond expectations. This further national recognition of Point and Sandwick Trust and the work it does underlines the value of community owned enterprises and the benefit they can bring to our islands. Everyone who supports the trust should be very proud of this achievement.”

The Social Business Awards were due to have been presented at a ceremony on March 26 which was cancelled due to concerns around the coronavirus outbreak. A spokesman for the awards said they hoped that “recognising the achievements of the UK’s top social enterprises over the past year will give us all some positive news to be proud of”.

Donald John MacSween, general manager of Point and Sandwick Trust, said it was “positive news indeed” as the charity works to maximise the support available to the local community during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

Such support has included the launch of an emergency community pandemic fund – to which the wind farm charity has committed all unallocated cash for this year – plus donations of £40,000 to NHS Western Isles, £15,000 total to community councils, the production in partnership with Lews Castle College UHI of PPE (protective personal equipment) to NHS and care staff, and the establishment of a co-ordinated delivery service for the Point and Sandwick area, with drivers and a co-ordinator appointed this week. 

Point and Sandwick Trust has previously won the UK Environmental Social Enterprise Award, Scottish Environmental Social Enterprise Award and the Celebrating Communities Award at the Scottish Charity Awards – all in 2018 – and Best Community Project at the Scottish Green Energy Awards in 2015.