The first Solar Supper of Eastbourne Friends of the Earth's Run on Sun campaign
12th August 2014
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It was held on the premises of the first local business to declare its full support for our campaign, Converteco Solar – which has already installed solar panels on local schools over the years, and is bidding to do more.
16 people attended, which may not sound a lot, but the attendees were all very connected with schools and solar energy in one way or another.

Con Cronin, the CEO of Converteco Solar, was the perfect host by sponsoring the food and welcoming guests, and a local Co-operative store manager sponsored the Fairtrade wines.

A special guest was Caroline Ansell, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Eastbourne & Willingdon. She spoke movingly about how, as an ex-governor of Ocklynge School, Eastbourne, she’d seen how solar panels had widened the pupils’ educational opportunities, and increased their awareness of energy matters in general.
Members of a new local community energy co-operative, Eastbourne Community Energy, spoke of how they wanted to work closely with local businesses and councils to help make it easier for schools to get solar power. Having the top energy officer from Eastbourne Borough Council present to hear that message was most useful.
A founder-member of Community Energy South was also on hand to explain how all the emerging community energy co-operatives are now linked up and working together to pool resources and know-how in order to help scale up community energy all across Sussex. This is helping local communities to take back control over power generation, enabling them to gain a valuable return on investment in their own clean energy and energy saving schemes, helping create new jobs locally, creating more opportunities for local businesses, and generating funds for local community projects. Community energy is a perfect example of the Big Society and is real localism in action!

Eastbourne actually has the sunniest climate in the UK, and is renowned for the number and range of its educational establishments. So putting solar panels on local schools to make them run on sun and save shed-loads of money in the process is a total no-brainer. Just about everybody we've talked to locally agrees with that, and many want to help.

The Solar Supper was the most enjoyable part of our Run on Sun campaign so far, as the relaxed atmosphere helped to bring people together to do the networking and brainstorming that will ultimately help Run on Sun to succeed locally.

The general consensus by the end of the evening was that there should be more Solar Suppers, to develop further the ideas that emerged during the evening. Fortunately, there was enough wine left over to help lubricate the next one!

And the work doesn’t stop there. Since the Solar Supper we’ve started talks about solar installation with a primary school in Eastbourne. A local football club has enthusiastically leapt upon our suggestion that a community energy group could help it raise the finance it needs to put solar panels on its roof. And we've also been invited to meet Stephen Lloyd MP to discuss what we can do together to help our local schools to run on sun.

And why stop at schools? All our community facilities, such as hospitals, churches, community halls, etc., could start running on sun, saving money, and help create the safe climate future we all so badly need, especially here in Eastbourne, which is vulnerable to the several metres of sea level rise predicted of we carry on with business as usual as far as generating carbon emissions is concerned! That would help make Eastbourne the solar capital of Sussex, perhaps even of the UK! What a way to make Eastbourne peerless, rather than pier-less!
We’ll be making better use of all that lovely sunshine in no time!

You too can help make Run on Sun campaign succeed. Just go to and pledge your support as well as find out all the easy actions you can take to help. If you know of a local school that might want solar panels, a free info pack to help that school can be downloaded from
To keep up to date about Eastbourne & Disrict Friends of the Earth, look us up on Facebook

About the Author

Andy Durling

Member since: 28th October 2013

Having left behind careers as a professional nurse and a charity administrator, and deftly weaving a delicate path through the existential crises of middle age and semi-retirement, I am currently Co-ordinator...

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