Rachael co-founded Chirpy Heat with Nicholas Doyle and Will Routh in 2019. Chirpy Heat is the leading provider of independent support for the social housing providers with their communal and district heating. It was established with the one aim of helping them to deliver low cost, low carbon, reliable heat to customers. She is also a co-founder and Director of SE2, a strategic sustainability consultancy established in 2004 and celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Rachael’s OBE recognises the work she’s done in energy efficiency and establishing a business forum for women working in heat networks. The District Heating Divas was established in 2019 and in five years has grown to nearly 1000 members in both the UK and Scandinavia. They have groups that meet on a regular basis in London, the Midlands, the North, the South-West, Scotland and Denmark, as well as specific groups for the public sector and those in the early stages of their heat network career.
“I feel so honoured to be awarded an OBE – and it was such a surprise!” says Rachael. “I’m supported by a wonderful network of inspirational women and men who I’m lucky enough to work alongside – this was definitely a team effort!”
As well as bringing women together to network and support each other, the Divas also advocate for the sector to be an attractive career option for a diverse range of people and strive to ensure heat networks are the best they can be for customers and the environment. It’s also helped to launch the Heat Exchanger Mentor Programme and hosts the annual ‘Connecting Women in District Heat’ conference.
Nicholas Doyle, co-founder and director of Chirpy Heat, adds: “Rachael is an inspiration to everyone in the sector and her work is playing a vital transforming an industry that plays impacts on thousands of lives and will be a key part of the UK’s drive to net zero. The award of this honour is truly deserved and act as inspiration for all of us to work towards an even better future’”.
Rachael also co-founded and is the Secretariat of The Heat Network, a forum for social housing providers to share good practice and influence policy on communal and district heating, through which she participates in numerous Government stakeholder groups. She is also a non-Executive Director of the Association for Decentralised Energy.