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Caching in by sat nav W


hat a great way to use today’s technologies. The brainchild of Rtn Steve Hunt, (Worcester


Vigornia, District 1100) started off as ‘let’s have a treasure hunt’ and soon became ‘let’s do it differently’. The first Vigornia GPS Challenge was launched. A team of six Vigornians hid caches


(boxes) in the wonderful Worcestershire countryside and noted GPS coordinates. Logistics expert, Rtn Stephen Hodgson, worked out routes and mileage so that all was fair to the teams. Each cache concealed small items to swap and a logbook to be signed. On the day, 1st October 2011, with the aid of sat navs or smartphones, Rotarians, friends and families set off on a treasure hunt with a twist. Before the event, a ten minute


introduction to using GPS devices was delivered along with Vigornia GPS Challenge handbooks. A stall selling small novel items for cache swaps added to the fun as did the list of natural items to find such as leaves, feathers, seeds and so on. Base for the day was the Bear & Ragged Staff pub in rural Worcestershire. Car sharing was encouraged so that


those without a GPS device could be with those who did. Once a cache was found, text-messaging was used to provide the next coordinates and off they set again. Prizes were given for best mileage,


best-dressed car, best examples from the natural finds list, most litter picked and, of course, there was a booby prize. Overall winners were the Swindone’s


who said: “A fantastic day travelling the local roads. Lots of laughing when we were looking in the wrong places. Excellent fellowship and fun.” Only one team had to be ‘rescued’, saying how much easier caching was than expected, but that ‘challenge’ was a good word. If you would like to set up a GPS


caching event, the Vigornia team would be pleased to show you, for a donation to the Worcestershire Breast Unit Campaign. Vigornia’s next GPS challenge is on


11th March 2012. All are welcome and proceeds go to the Worcestershire Breast Unit Campaign. n


Polly Robinson President, Rotary Club of Worcester Vigornia


Solar power – generating


environmental benefits Solar power could provide funds to help fuel Rotarians’ environmental ambitions, reduce their carbon footprint and generate guaranteed tax-free income for 25 years.


I


n April 2010, the Government introduced attractive alternative energy incentive schemes for domestic


and business users alike. Despite a cut in incentive rates this month, the economics still make good sense for households looking to go green and generate well above average and inflation-proof financial returns. For example, installing a domestic 4kW


solar panel system could generate 3,250 kilowatt hours of electricity each year, save two tonnes of carbon emissions and generate tax free income of £1,000 pa, more if households choose an optimum system for their location and become more energy aware. If 10% of Rotarians across Britain and


Ireland installed suitable solar panels on this basis, we could reduce CO2 output by 11,000 tonnes. The Government’s earlier, tax-free,


inflation-proof, Feed-in Tariff (FiT) rate of 43.3p for schemes generating up to 4kW per hour, payable for 25 years, created phenomenal, but unsustainable, interest in solar products. The new rate of 21p, uplifted by the


retail price index, will initially get the scheme back to its roots of providing an inflation-proof, tax-free incentive of


around 6%, possibly better, but this will change. Global competition, particularly from China, will see panel production costs fall still further. In addition, improvements in technology will continue to enhance panel and inverter efficiencies. We are likely, therefore, to see growing


interest in solar as an alternative energy source, as real rates of return, once again, head towards 10% with corresponding reductions in investment pay-back periods. Rotarian Stephen Sypula comments:


“Although individual savings of two tonnes of CO2 is a drop in the ocean when compared with the UK’s total CO2 reduction target of 300 million tonnes, it will help.” He adds: “It really does pay to do


some homework. There is a wealth of helpful sources of information on the web to provide a feel for costs, benefits and prospective suppliers. Rotarians should obtain at least three competitive quotations from comparable REAL registered, MSC certificated companies.” To find out more, contact Stephen on 01438 980707 stephen@sgrc.org.uk n


Stephen Sypula Rotary Club of Stevenage


www.ribi.org | December 2011 21


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