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B4RN has won Two major industry Awards!

November 8, 2021 by Mark Gray

We were named ‘Best Community Project’ at the INCA Gold Awards before winning ‘Best Rural ISP’ at the ISPA Awards.

It was a whirlwind 48 hours for B4RN, claiming the INCA prize during a dinner at the National Motorcycle Museum on Wednesday last week (3rd November), before picking up the ISPA gong during a glitzy ceremony at the Sheraton in London the next day (4th November).

Speaking after the INCA win, CEO Michael Lee was quick to recognise everyone involved: “This award belongs to the communities, volunteers, champions and landowners that work every day to deliver future proof broadband to their communities.”

Chief Operating Officer Tom Rigg echoed those sentiments at the ISPAs: “These awards are for you. All our communities, champions, volunteer, landowners – everyone! What an achievement, you deserve it!”

As the wins were announced on our social media, dozens of people took time to congratulate B4RN.

Some told their own stories about B4RN, including Rob Urselmann, who runs an energy sector engineering consultancy business out of Kirkby Lonsdale thanks to his B4RN connection: “The incredible power of local communities. Six years ago, our ancient rural copper wire internet failed every time it rained. It rains a lot in the North of England. Then, as a community supported by the then still all volunteer B4RN, we dug our own trenches, laid cables, connected homes. In the process, there was always coffee/tea and baked goodies by those who couldn’t contribute physically. No need to say we also strengthened an already good community spirit. With a rock solid Gigabit fibre-to-the-premise connection, B4RN is the reason Aotea can deliver the professional service we do!”

B4RN will initially give the awards pride of place at Melling HQ whilst a plan to send them ‘on tour’ to all our communities is hatched.

October 21st

Great news: the government's DCMS GIGABIT VOUCHER SCHEME team has confirmed the Crook B4RN project is a PRIORITY AREA PROJECT and can continue to apply for voucher funding for hyperfast broadband. They have effectively, for us, scrapped the original deadline, allowing us further access to government funding as we sign up more members of the community to take B4RN’s superior community-driven service.

B4RN CEO Michael Lee says “This decision marks a significant change for your project. Prior to this, we expected all voucher applications to be paused from 24th September for up to a year - a decision that brought the viability of many of our projects into doubt. This is no longer the case, thanks, in no small part, to the huge effort to drive sign-up ahead of this deadline, which was a vital part of securing voucher priority status for your project”

This is great news for the future of the project and means it’s full steam ahead!

We can now move on to the next stage of our project with route planning, build preparations and the collection of investment pledges with confidence and B4RN's full support.

October 6th

This morning at the photo-call for the 'official' opening of Crosthwaite School as a B4RN school, Tim Farron MP and Michael Lee (CEO of B4RN) discussed the positive news, of the Government DCMS policy change on the Gigabit Voucher scheme, with Volunteer Leads Henk Muller and Andy Brown of the Crosthwaite and Crook B4RN Projects.

Tim and Michael were keen to express their thanks for the active lobbying and support of all the volunteers that forced the agenda with the Minister, whose subsequent debate and consultation with B4RN has changed the process in favour of our community led projects. Michael praised the volunteers for their continued support and patience, whilst B4RN waits for the DCMS's new policy and structure to be announced.

It undoubtedly will be good news and the fact that DCMS is focusing specifically on B4RN and the Cumbria area is hugely positive and reassuring for us all. Further message from Michael here :

October 1st

It's time to invest in our Crook B4RN project! For details and terms & conditions visit this site. (as always with investments consult an independent advisor as you wish) Transfer no money just yet! ...... To Quote an ex-BT manager "Investing in your own communications with B4RN is a no-brainer!"

September 28th

We're incredibly buoyed to have signed up a total of 64% of the properties in Crook to Get B4RN - smashing our 50% target - and numbers continue to rise. Huge thanks to all of you for your continued support.

In what we expect to be more good news for Crook, B4RN have managed to secure a deal whereby the voucher scheme will remain open for some areas. This should mean that as more people sign up, B4RN can apply for vouchers for eligible properties, adding further to the pot for the whole community.

This follows a vigorous lobbying campaign by volunteers, in Crook and elsewhere, alongside B4RN HQ and championed by Tim Farron MP. Tim managed to convene a special debate in Westminster last week at which he successfully argued the case for extension to the new minister responsible for the roll out of gigabit broadband across the UK, Julia Lopez. He received cross party support.

B4RN are now working with DCMS to determine which B4RN communities can be counted as "Voucher Priority Areas" and continue to gain access to vouchers. This will largely be based on the viability of each project. They are delaying any formal announcement on individual projects until they can announce them all together. Given the exceptionally strong backing Crook's project achieved in the six weeks running up to the September 10th deadline we are confident of a positive outcome for this area.

In an email to Crook Volunteer leader Andrew Brown this morning Tim Farron said "It is hard to believe that such an entirely appropriate outcome could have required such concentrated representation to overcome the obstacles. I am so pleased that the admirable work of the best internet provider in the country will continue so that some of the most remote homes in the north west will be able to install fibre to their property in the foreseeable future."

So that's a big round of applause to everyone involved!

And for anyone who has received an email and/or text from BDUK asking you to confirm your voucher request, please don't forget to do so within the 28 days allowed.

We would urge all our supporters to continue to encourage friends and neighbours who haven't signed up to do so.

Best wishes from the Crook volunteer team.

We will be in touch again as soon as there is any further news.

September 21st

Interesting exchange in Parliament this morning, with our MP, Tim Farron, and the new minister for the DCMS, Julia Lopez. (fast forward the link to 1100am or use the YouTube link).