I can’t quite believe that I have been part of the St Andrews Environmental Network (StAndEN) for ten years. At the time I joined the team I was working as an adviser for international development and humanitarian organisations including Save the Children and WaterAid. That work took me to many countries in Europe, Asia and Africa and because of all the flights my carbon footprint was huge. So was my level of guilt at my personal contribution to climate change. In 2010 when I heard that a project was being set up in St Andrews to help local communities save energy and reduce their carbon footprint I was very keen to get involved. I was lucky enough to be offered that opportunity and became part of the StAndEN team.
My work at StAndEN started very part-time because of my other work commitments - I could only squeeze in a few days of work a month as an energy adviser. Even that limited amount of time opened my eyes to the possibilities that making small changes can have when they are all added together. Although most of my early work involved providing advice, the project also did some practical things like fitting TV powerdowns, radiator reflector panels and low energy lightbulbs. In those early days I could be seen cycling around St Andrews with a bike trailer full of tools and energy-saving devices. It was definitely the practical side of the work that I enjoyed most so I jumped at the chance to become StAndEN’s first handyman as part of the newly started Cosy Kingdom project.
Now that I am retired from my work in international development (thereby hugely reducing my carbon footprint) I am able to put much more time into StAndEN as the project handyman. These days we cover half of Fife and install a wider range of practical energy saving measures including low energy light bulbs, radiator reflectors, chimney balloons, draught-proofing and thermal curtains. The handyman work keeps me (and my colleague Gavin Brady) very busy but I also really enjoy staffing our stall at some of the community events we support.
As I walk, cycle and drive around the communities in our patch it gives me a great sense of satisfaction to think of all the individuals and families who have benefited from the project’s work. I have lost count of the number of pairs of thermal curtains I have installed (so many that I went through a time of dreaming about fitting curtains!) but I still feel really chuffed when I meet people in the street who pass on their thanks for the work we have done – especially the one who said “Oh hi, you’re the curtain guy, aren’t you?!”