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Beechdale Energy to install solar pv panels onto a Gambian school - Old laptops needed!

Beechdale Energy

Published: 07th September 2011.

Local Renewable Technology Company Launches Their Pledge to Help Gambian School and Asks For Help.

Beechdale Energy, Cambridge based installers of solar pv panels and other renewable technologies, will be installing solar pv panels a little further afield in just a few months’ time.  As part of their pledge to support a third world school, they have joined forces with registered charity The Gambia Schools Trust. The Trust is a small educational charity supported entirely by donations, fundraising activities and unpaid volunteers. The trust has now built three schools from the ground and is involved with many more.

The Gambian school set to receive the 20 (4.6 kW) panels generating approximately 3,834 kWH system from Beechdale Energy, is Sinchu Njabo, located on the north bank of the river, about 20 miles east from the nearest big town of Farafenni.  Sinchu Njabo is a small village 30 miles from the nearest town, there is no electricity in the village and no plans for any in the immediate future.  The school has about 700 children, aged 7 to 16 from the surrounding communities.  The average income per family in the area is 2000 dalasis per year, which is about £50.  They are subsistence farmers, living on what they grow with a small surplus to provide cash. 

The children who attend Blue Water nursery school progress to this school when they graduate from the nursery.  Hilary Lawther, one of just eight Trustees from the charity said, ‘This is a fantastic opportunity for the school,  all teaching is done by rote, with the pupils sat in rows repeating everything the teachers say.  Some books have been provided by the charity in recent years and some text books are now provided by the Government. Computers are something they can only dream of.  The nearest Internet cafe is 30 miles away and most families cannot afford the transport costs to get there, let alone the cost of being online. This initiative by Beechdale Energy will provide the children in this area with a wonderful chance to experience a complete new way of learning, to acquire a new skill which can take them beyond the boundaries of their village.  The provision of lighting in the school office will transform the working life of the teachers, it gets dark at around 7pm each day, after hours activities can be introduced’.

Ronnie Bakker from  Cambridge based 20-20 Solar has been responsible for the bespoke design of the system together with the battery system for saving the electricity to enable it to be used after dark for lighting, up to 10 laptops, and of course charging of mobile phones. 

Beechdale Energy will be sending the solar pv panels in a container consignment leaving at the end of October.  The installation of the panels is scheduled for January 2012 during the dry season when the Hamattan wind will hopefully keep the Beechdale installation team cool during the 30 degree heat of the days.  Beechdale will be sending a minimum of six installation staff and although the installation is expected to take only a couple of days,  a further 3-4 days will be used  to enable them to offer help with any other building jobs that may be required as some of the team will be experienced bricklayers and carpenters.  It will be all hands on deck to make this as productive and helpful as possible.

Martin Jackson, Director of Beechdale Energy said, ‘We are keen to give something back, we feel that getting personally involved and carrying out the work ourselves, we will gain from the experience also as individuals, great opportunity for our staff to work together on a good cause, experience another way of life, and have that feel good factor about what we are doing.   By just giving a lump sum to a charity, this is not achieved. Obviously working with a lack of electricity in a very remote part of the country will in itself be a challenge, ensuring all our materials are taken with us as popping down to the local builders merchant will not be an option. Working in a different climate will create a challenge, our team are very excited as this opportunity.’

Beechdale would like to hear from local Cambridgeshire schools who would be interested in becoming twinned Sinchu Njabo with the view to creating pen pals for the children.

Beechdale Energy would like to thank all companies involved with this project, without everyone’s collaboration, it may not have been possible.

Do you have an old laptop, computer or server that you no longer use and can donate to the school? Or any CD’s of Encyclopaedia or similar which would be useful as internet access will be intermittent at best. (Computers donated should ideally be running Windows XP, please see for further details or call Beechdale Energy on 01223 264520).

Rest assured, sponsors of this project, Antechs Computers of St Ives will be reformatting and removing any personal information left on the laptops.

Computer Drop off points:

Modish shoe shop, 3 Green Street, Cambridge, CB2 3JU

Beechdale Energy Offices in Kingston, Bourn Road, Cambridge CB23 2NP

Antechs Computers, 8 Crown Street, St. Ives, Cambridge, PE27 5EB


Drop Off Closing Date: Sun 9th October to ensure its place in the container. 

If you would like to discuss this project further please email:


Keep up to date with this project by visiting:

Registered number 1093083.


About Beechdale Energy/Homes

Locally based business with excellent reputation gained from 15 years of construction expertise and knowledge.  Fully accredited installers of Photovoltaic and renewable energy systems.  A full range of working models can be seen at their energy showroom in Kingston, just west of Cambridge. Open daily during office hours or by appointment at weekends.

For more information visit


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Marketing Contact

Jo Riches                                   

Jo Riches Marketing

Tel: +44 (0)1638 743089

Mob: 07854 210837                     


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