L isa Scott lives with her partner Anthony and four children on a farm, Eastgate House, in Eastgate, County Durham. They have 600-700 Swaledale sheep and mules and 100 suckler cows. The family was feeling the cold. Their detached five-bed stone-built farmhouse is high up on a hill, and their Hunter Herald 13 multifuel boiler was only powerful enough to heat up four out of their eight radiators - although it had only been installed for six or seven years.
The problem seemed to be that the farmhouse was just too big for the boiler. The family had got used to piling on jumpers and pairs of woolly socks to keep warm. Lisa said: “It was so cold we were getting dressed to go to bed. That’s when I heard about Rural Funding Services. I found them on Facebook and contacted Andy Crawford, the funding director. He told us about the government funding for ‘greener’ heating and said that we qualified for help because we have a high rate of child tax credit. We have a little one, Imogen, who is eight and severely autistic. We get a higher rate of disability living allowance for her, so we were eligible to have an oil boiler put in."
“The only snag was we didn’t actually have an oil boiler. We had the Hunter Herald, which is a multi-fuel stove. Andy’s team came out to the farm and did a survey and within ten days they were back with a Worcester Bosch A-rated boiler. They set about converting the radiators that we had. The whole process happened within three weeks.”
After the work was done, a delighted Lisa described the change as ‘like living in Barbados.’ She said: “I have lived here two years in December and there has always been one radiator that we thought had never worked. When the lads turned the oil boiler on, that radiator got smoking hot. It was my partner Anthony’s 31st birthday on that Friday and it was the best birthday present we could have ever had.”
Rural Funding Services has also improved heating for Lisa’s father-in-law, who suffers from the health condition sarcoidosis, related to sheep dip. Lisa, who has also not been well this year having had a knee replacement, explained: “He spent nearly six months in James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and they didn’t think he would survive. His house is four-bedroom and he did have oil central heating, but his boiler wasn’t up to standard. Rural Funding Services got him a new Worcester Bosch boiler as well.”
She added: “I cannot thank Andy and Rural Funding Services enough. The last couple of months have been slightly cooler, but at 5.30am when I hear the boiler kick in, I know I won’t have to run from my bedroom to the bathroom because it’s so cold! When I first spoke to Andy and the team I was a little bit like: ‘Oh, I don’t want to get my fingers burned. Someone is really going to give me oil central heating for free? But it’s true. We have paid absolutely nothing. We originally had a quote for the same boiler, and to get it and install it would have cost around £6,500."
“There are plenty of farmers out there who would struggle to put new heating in. Any famers that receive the qualifying benefits should apply to Rural Funding Services for help.”