This is a very long story, and we hope it’s not finished yet…

Able on Twitpic

This man is Able Miller, an engineer who runs a charity called Skills Scotland that does great work training local people through fixing up all sorts of broken or discarded stuff, then sends it to Africa or other places it’s really needed. I met him at a recycling conference a few years ago.

I told him about a defunct generator I knew about – it had been taken out of 50 Kingsway Court when the ground floor room it occupied was being converted into a creche. This thing was big – an old rolls royce generator with enough power to run a 19 storey block of flats. It was virtually unused, but in need of some tlc after 40 years gathering dust.

Here she comes on Twitpic

Options to send it to Malawi had been investigated, but ‘expert’ opinion said that it would cost far too much to fix (£5000), and once refurbished would be inefficient, unreliable, and impossible to get spare parts for. If you want to send a generator to Malawi, they said, order a nice new one from China.

To cut a long story short, Able had it fixed up for next to nothing and shipped to a medical clinic in Africa in jig time. In an area plagued by power cuts, it’s been saving lives there ever since. It might be more thirsty than a modern generator set, but it’s proved reliable (it’s a rolls royce!) and if anything does go wrong, it can be more easily fixed by local engineers than a new-fangled one.

Ever since, we’ve been campaigning with Able to get these redundant machines out of tower blocks and into places that really need them.

Last week, after four years of asking, we got the fantastic news that GHA had given us permission to take 6 more generators from tower blocks in Scotstoun. Hooray!


Able doesn’t hang about, so we got the first two out on Friday. These bad boys weigh 3.5 tons – here’s the slideshow