A businessman who has spent the pandemic helping schools and families to bridge the tech divide has fulfilled a childhood ambition – and is now the proud recipient of a Blue Peter badge.
The long-running children's television show awards high-achievers with the coveted badge. Simon Crisp, managing director of Marlborough-based computer recycler Green Machine, won his badge for his 'long-term commitment to ending digital poverty'.
It is rare for over-15s to be awarded the honour.
Green Machine was established by Simon – a former consultant with IBM – in 2011 as a way of diverting tech from landfill. Businesses could donate desktop computers and laptops which were wiped of data by the company before being sold at an affordable price on to schools, charities, and community groups.
During the pandemic, the company launched a Tech Amnesty, urging businesses and individuals to donate laptops which could be given to school children forced to work from home because of coronavirus restrictions.
Beginning in Wiltshire, the amnesty expanded to Dorset and Berkshire. A Tweet by Simon joking his efforts could see him rewarded with a Blue Peter badge led to a conversation with Blue Peter editor Ellen Evans, and finally a letter and the coveted badge.
"We were very impressed with your long-term commitment to ending digital poverty, as well as your brilliant eco-friendly ethos providing people with better access to recycled technology," wrote Ellen.
"We think this hard work deserves some recognition – so please find enclosed a special Blue Peter cloth emblem, which can be displayed as a symbol of your green achievements and the selfless ambition of your company."
Meanwhile, the need for tech during the third national lockdown – and the second to see schools closed to most pupils – is still urgent. "We have over 30 schools requesting kit and this number is increasing all the time," said Simon.
"We also have a number of charities who have requested tech as well."
Anyone who has tech to donate can contact Simon at www.greenmachinecomputers.com/techamnesty They can also make a donation to cover the £50 it costs to repair and refurbish each laptop.
Tech donations can also be left at fire stations in Pewsey, Marlborough, Salisbury, Ramsbury, Westbourne, Poole, Stratton (Swindon), and Weymouth.