Written by Chris Coates, director at LESS

If you stick around for long enough, as a community group, you inevitably get nominated for an award or two. Over the sixteen years since LESS started we have been put forward for various awards both as an organisation and also for individual members of our staff/volunteers, occasionally we’ve won!

Our Home Energy Service volunteers had a good run in the Lancaster CVS volunteer achievement awards being recognised for their “contribution and commitment” in 2012, 13 & 14. One of our staff members Peter Wiltshire was named as a National Heat Hero by National Energy Action in 2014. And as an organisation in 2015 we scooped the Transition City Lancaster certificate of appreciation for our “rugged determination” and valuable contribution to the local community. 

But my all-time favourite accolade was to have our Ambleside Road Allotment Project acclaimed by Permaculture Magazine as being home to one of the top five composting toilets in the world!

For which the grand prize was a roll of glow in the dark toilet paper.

I take great pride in this somewhat seemingly frivolous award. Not just because I had a hand in the design and building of the luxury loo in a shed, but more because the ‘off the ground’ project it was part of managed to create the first new allotment site in the district for over 50 years. It’s kicked off what has now become a major strand of our work in developing the local food economy leading to the setting up of the FoodFutures Network across the District. 

I never imagined when I became a LESS director it would require me to become an alternative sanitation engineer. But then I never imagined it would lead to me being a rep at the National Sustainable Food Cities Conference who gave Lancaster District their Bronze Award largely as a result of work LESS had initiated. Not that I am involved in LESS for the gongs and prizes. What has kept me involved has been our original aim “…to help communities to live within their fair share of the planet’s resources” by offering practical support to help local residents whether that has been through offering advice on energy bills, helping to build a resilient local food network or building a world beating composting toilet.

We are on the lookout for new directors with relevant business skills, or simply with an enthusiasm for the work we do. If you would be interested in joining us for more information, see: www.lessuk.org


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