Barrow-based enterprise, The Schools’ Energy Co-operative Ltd, has scooped a prestigious national prize – taking home the award for the Inspiring Co-op of the Year at the Co-operative of the Year Awards.

Members of the co-op were presented with their award at a gala dinner during Co-op Congress, the sector’s annual conference, organised by sector body Co-operatives UK and supported by The Co-operative Bank.

The Schools’ Energy Co-op Ltd was launched in 2014 to provide community sourced funding for solar panel systems on schools.

It has since installed panels on 48 schools all over the country, providing them with a sustainable solar-powered electricity supply and engaging the local community and students in its projects.

Laura Moreno from The Schools’ Energy Co-operative said: “We are thrilled to receive the award and the recognition of our work helping schools to tackle climate change by generating green energy on their roofs.”

The co-op scooped the prize after a public vote which saw numerous organisations and individuals shortlisted in six categories.

A record 33,000 votes were cast, with nominations and votes coming from large and small businesses, members, customers and co-operators across the sector.

Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, said: “The Co-op of the Year Awards is always a special occasion. And once again, worthy winners have taken home the coveted prizes.

"The Schools’ Energy Co-operative Ltd – and all our winners and nominees – are an outstanding example of how working co-operatively creates opportunity, prosperity and meaningful work, and brings social and economic benefits to communities and businesses throughout the country.”