THE future looks bright for a team of green enthusiasts who have joined forces to land a major grant, which they hope will turn Salisbury into the solar energy capital of the south.

The five friends all share a dream of launching a solar energy club, to encourage people and businesses to save money and energy by harnessing the power of the sun.

Thanks to a £9,325 grant from Community Innovators Millennium Awards, that dream is on the brink of becoming reality.

All that remains is for the five to get in training and learn the teaching and installation skills that will enable them to spread the word about solar energy and help people switch their homes to run on green fuel, at a fraction of the usual cost.

Richard Davis and Benji Goehl will go on an installers' course and kit themselves out with tools.

Jimmy Walker will print promotional leaflets, put together an information pack, launch a website and organise a travelling roadshow to help promote the work of the solar club.

Ian Smith will deal with all the administration and David Croxall will co-ordinate its efforts to bring communities together to convert whole neighbourhoods to solar energy.

Already friends as a result of their common interest in cycling, the five discovered that they also shared a commitment to sustainable energy.

With the help of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, they put together a bid for lottery funding and have not looked back.

They have also have won the backing of south Wiltshire's Agenda 21 group - a body dedicated to preserving the environment through local initiatives.

Their first project will be to volunteer as guinea pigs and convert their own homes to solar power to gain practical expertise to pass on to other would-be DIY solar users.

Mr Croxhall said: "A solar panel will pay for itself in about five years and has an average lifespan of 20 years.

"We hope that it will take off and as many people as possible will realise that this is something they can do as individuals to help slow climate change."

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