Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Energise Sussex Coast gathering – Richard Watson fourth from left.

Come to the Hastings Big Happy Energy Day

Hastings Big Happy Energy Day at Sussex Coast College in February brings together a number of threads that are vital to wellbeing and a feeling of happiness. Feeling warm in our homes and a warmth generated by getting involved and helping people and thereby helping ourselves. Richard Watson, founder of Energise Sussex Coast and one of those people who cares for real, shares some of his thoughts on fuel, finances, fun and finding practical help on keeping warm in winter.

“I had a thought when listening to the BBC Today programme that if an alien arrived they might think that the only thing that matters to humans is the state of the economy. That our last thought before we die might be, “I wonder if the Dow Jones index has gone up today?”. When the exact opposite is true. The things that really matter are our friends, family, love, feeling connected.

“Working as a team when you feel part of something that is bigger than yourself is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world. So is forgetting about yourself and doing something for someone else. When you make others happier, it is almost impossible not to feel happier yourself.”

Hastings Big Happy Energy Day

Hastings Big Happy Energy Day

“The idea behind the Hastings Big Happy Energy Day at Sussex Coast College on 17 February is to get as many voluntary organisations together with as many individuals and groups to celebrate this untold story we take for granted. That doing positive things for others when there is no money involved can be uplifting and fun. We especially want to invite young families and vulnerable groups that need help with staying warm, well, safer, healthier and happier.”


“I love it that the re-booted Hastings Transition Town movement is looking at local food growing schemes and community gardens in places like Warrior Square Station. It may sound a bit cheesy but I believe that if we can help the environment flourish we ourselves will flourish as a community – and if we flourish as a community, this will help us flourish as individuals.

“Teilhard de Chardin, the Jesuit scientist who lived in Hastings briefly, said: ‘There is no evolutionary future for anyone unless everyone is included’.

“So helping the people who need it most has got to be where we start. I have stopped thinking that we need to have a profitable economic business model before we do anything to change the way things are. We just need people who care about other people and the planet to get together and make positive change happen. That’s everyone.”

Energise Sussex Coast

“What we at Energise Sussex Coast do as a community energy co-op is give free energy advice to people and help them save money. There is no better feeling than knowing you have just saved a couple in their 90s, living on pension credits, £750 on their energy bill. Or helped someone get a £500 debt cancelled. Or a new boiler.

“Over half our houses in Hastings were built when coal was cheap and it didn’t matter how leaky they were. But it matters now. If we don’t want to harm present and future generations, we have to change the way we generate and use energy. The big energy companies are not going to help us pay less. We have to do that ourselves.

“If everyone who has not switched tariff or supplier in the last two years did so, that would put £7.5 million back into the local economy annually. That is a huge sum. And it could take someone less than 10 minutes to do it online. That’s why we are using the event to launch the Community Big Switch Campaign. Bring your bills to the event! Once we’ve saved you some money, we can start to show you how to save even more (and save energy and greenhouse gases) by insulating your home, installing magnetic secondary glazing and radiator reflectors. I don’t think the day is far away when we can be part of a local energy co-op that sells the renewable, clean energy we generate locally at fairer prices.”

Warm Home Team

“Right now we want to train up a Warm Home Team and see a network of local volunteers learn the skills to improve our houses and help vulnerable people in the community save energy and money and stay warm. It is a national scandal that 12,000 people in the UK died last year because their homes were too cold. No child should live and study in a cold home. No one should get ill because they cannot afford to heat their home and no-one should have to choose between heating and eating. It just takes a decision to start acting together.

“Come and join a local organisation on 17 February and find out how you can help your friends, family and neighbours.”

Energy clinics and the Big Energy Saving Network

“Energise Sussex Coast currently runs energy advice clinics in the Town Hall on Tuesdays from 9.30am–2.30pm. Worried about rising energy bills? Get free advice from our trained advisers, who will help you:

  • find the most suitable tariff and the cheapest way to pay.
  • solve energy bill problems.
  • save energy in your home to stay warm and healthy.
  • check eligibility for free energy saving grants (from government, local authorities and energy companies).

Visit the Energise Sussex Coast to find your nearest energy desk or clinic. Make an appointment or arrange a home visit if you are disabled or elderly. Contact Energy Champions Richard Watson on 07854951325 or via email at, or Deborah Derber on 07914386967 or via email at

Richard Watson (Photo Zelly Restorick)

Richard Watson (Photo Zelly Restorick)

Energise Sussex Coast is a local not-for-profit co-op, set up for community benefit in 2012 to help residents in Hastings and Rother save energy, tackle fuel poverty, promote community energy schemes and generate and own their own energy.

Richard Watson is the founder of Energise Sussex Coast and is also a director of Community Energy South, an umbrella charity organisation for 15 community energy groups across Sussex and Kent. He’s also a director of the Schools Energy Co-op, which is funding solar panels on up to 70 schools in the UK, including Glenleigh Park Academy Primary School in Bexhill and Christ Church C of E primary school in St Leonards.

And in the New Year honours list Richard was given the OBE for services to the community in Sussex – congratulations, Richard!

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Posted 13:08 Sunday, Jan 24, 2016 In: Energy Wise

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