Tom Parker – Chair
Tom trained in horticulture at Kew Gardens and later became a Head Gardener in Turners Hill where he lived for 27 years. He now lives in Storrington with his family and is currently chair of REPOWERBalcombe Co-operative and a director at Springbok Sustainable Wood Heat. As part of the Springbok Co-op Tom has assisted with woodland conservation work and successfully helped bring back the Wood White butterfly to previously unmanaged woodland.
When a governor at Turners Hill School Tom was responsible for a number of environmental initiatives including solar power, wind turbines, air source heat pumps, rainwater harvesting, LED lighting and planting a woodland. He is currently refitting his house to make it as low carbon as funds will allow. With REPOWERBalcombe Tom has worked to develop a solar farm connected to the mainline railway. He is very keen to see community energy groups develop locally and benefit our area in the same way as others he has been involved with.
Tim has lived in Balcombe with his family since 2004. He is a professor of electrical power engineering at Imperial College London and co-director of Imperial’s interdisciplinary energy institute, the Energy Futures Lab. His research work has focused on the integration of renewable energy into electricity grids. Tim is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Phil lives in Handcross with his family. After studying Mechanical Engineering, Phil has worked in manufacturing, international development and local government. As Sustainability Manager at Crawley Council, he is coordinating the Council’s response to the climate and nature emergencies, seeking to reduce fossil fuel consumption and increase the generation and use of renewable power.
Julian, a Brightonian by birth and a Balcombe resident, has never left his Sussex roots. Since 2016, Julian has been REPOWERBalcombe’s Legal Director. Julian practices as a solicitor and notary public in Sussex and London; he advises other community energy groups and advised on the Riding Sunbeams solar traction pilot project at Aldershot. Julian is a commercial mediator and a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. His other activities include Legal Analyst for Automotive EV, particularly on ESG (Environmental, Social Governance) issues. He is also a guest lecturer for University of Reading and University of Law. Julian is an editorial contributor to the EU Audiovisual Observatory’s, a member of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and until recently edited the ITN 1955 Club newsletter.
I was born in Brighton and have lived in Balcombe with my family since 1988. I am now retired after a long career in Information Technology, starting back in the days of punched cards and mainframe computers with just 32k of memory, which made Programming extremely challenging at the time! My interest in REPOWER is due to wanting to do something positive about moving away from burning fossil fuels for energy generation and its resultant impact on our climate. All life depends on clean air, water and food, above all else, and it is our duty to provide this for all of mankind both today and for future generations. The achievements of REPOWER and of the many similar initiatives throughout the UK, show that local communities can make a positive contribution towards improving our environment. REPOWERBalcombe bringing “Power to the People” – the words of Citizen Smith (Robert Lindsay), 1977 to 1980.
The rest of the Team
Jane’s family moved to Balcombe in the mid 1950’s. She attended Staplefield Primary School and then the Grammar School in Haywards Heath. After living for periods of time in London, Brussels and New Zealand, she returned to live in Balcombe in 1987 and work as a teacher. Having become increasingly concerned about global warming, and the consequences of our reliance on fossil fuels, she tries to be aware of and minimise her own carbon footprint. Jane sees the formation of REPOWERBalcombe as a positive move in the right direction and hopes that it will be part of a bigger, nationwide trend towards adopting more sustainable ways of living. She also hopes it will inspire young people in particular and encourage them to create a world built on renewable energy.
Graham is a Chartered Controls Engineer who moved into Balcombe, with his wife Astrid, Florence, and Dougal, mid-2021. He is also a qualified Electrician and a director of TurboMachinery Controls. His work has taken him around the world including visits to Oil Rigs and Deserts. He is passionate about long term solutions for renewable power and speaks French.
Gillian’s awareness of environmental disruption developed young, when the coal fires which heated our homes were banned, after the resulting smogs paralysed London and our major cities, causing thousands of deaths – and many others to develop acute respiratory conditions. In the 1960’s Gillian noticed that the small flies which had smothered the windscreen of her electric car on summer evenings, had disappeared. In the 1980’s our butterfly and bee populations began to collapse too. Now, an increasing number of viruses are killing our trees and shrubs at the same time as we are experiencing unprecedented levels of air pollution across all of the country. Is there a connection? Perhaps we should not wait for confirmation; but focus on developing clean, sustainable, cheap and locally produced energy, which allows our natural world to flourish. REPOWERBalcombe is Gillian’s answer to Nature’s prayers!
Our success has been achieved through the efforts of many people, many of whom have since left us for new challenges or have moved too far away from Balcombe for them to continue actively supporting us. In recognition of their time with us, we’ve started an Alumni page.
Possible (formerly 10:10) brings people together to do positive, practical stuff that helps solve climate change. 10:10 set up a dedicated campaign – BackBalcombe – for people outside the Balcombe area to support our mission and find out how they can get started re-powering their area.
Energy4All‘s mission is to expand the number of renewable energy co-operatives in the UK as an integral part of our transition to a low carbon economy.
The Ouse Valley Energy Services Company (OVESCO) aims to use community investment to increase the development of renewable energy and share skills with others to do the same in the South East.
Community Energy South (CES) is an association of community energy groups across Southeast England, including Sussex, Hampshire and Kent. Their mission is to encourage the growth of community owned renewable energy in the South East, increase energy efficiency and to help educate the communities in the South East to use less oil, coal and gas.
A huge thank you also for the advice and support from the following lovely people:
- Julian Fitzsimons – contributed countless hours as the chair of the group as we established ourselves and developed our solar installations.
- Joe Nixon – also contributed huge amounts of time and effort as a director in the first 2-3 years of REPOWERBalcombe’s journey.
- Millie Darling – a renewables ambassador without whom this project would not have got off the ground.
- Leo Murray from Possible (formerly 10:10) – an inspirational environmental ambassador providing us with huge amounts of information and support
- Howard Johns from Southern Solar – a UK renewables pioneer who has shared his knowledge and lent us support
- Mike Smyth from Energy4All – a UK Renewables legend who has more community energy experience than probably anyone else!
- Rachael Hunter from Wey Valley Solar – for sharing her valued knowledge to help us start
- Ollie Pendered from Community Energy South – for supporting us and all community energy groups across Sussex
- Stephen Reid for setting up our original website