Category Archive: Rural Business

Running Fox: Let them eat cake!

It’s a common misunderstanding that our Farm Team simply work with farmers and landowners across the North, managing assets, reviewing performance and securing government funding. Whilst agricultural does account for a large proportion of our work, our farm team have spent the last couple of years securing financial aid for rural businesses such as wedding venues and five-star accommodation, through to wildlife parks, and most recently, artisan cafés…

Running Fox

The Running Fox is an award winning, artisan café with sites nestled in the picturesque Northumberland villages, Felton and Longframlington. Thanks to a cunning business model, the café has expanded to a third premises, in the rural village of Shilbottle.

Kris Blackburn is the brain child behind this extremely successful enterprise. Back in 2011, it was Kris’ dream (and mission!) to bring the luxury of fresh artisan bakes to those living in rural areas, as well as using her business as a platform for small local producers to market their products. When the opportunity arose to take on the local newsagents in Felton, she jumped, making her dream a reality. Eight years on, and two additional Running Fox sites later, her ethos remains the same, providing for and supporting the local community.

In order to fund her most recent expansion into the village of Shilbottle, Kris contacted our team as she’d previously worked with us to secure planning permission for the development of the Felton premises. Of course, we were delighted to take on the project and it quickly became apparent that the project fit into the criteria for the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE); a programme created to fund projects that create jobs and growth the rural economy.

Rhys Jones, worked with Kris on the project, and said “Kris has a truly outstanding business model, she uses her business to breathe new life into quiet rural villages. I’m really glad she gave us a call as there was clearly a need for her business to expand. However, there was, and still is, a great need for local business expansion within rural communities in order to increase the economy through job creation and tourism.”

Thanks to our teams hard work and determination, £45,000 was secured in late 2018, meaning that Kris and her team could move forward with the structural and design work required to achieve completion by Spring 2019.

In order to qualify for financial aid through the RDPE, a candidate must demonstrate how they’ll use funding to develop the local economy. Speaking about how her business has progressed over the years, Kris said: “We could never have expected the reaction we received when we opened the Running Fox in Felton; on the day we opened, there was actually a queue up the street, we couldn’t believe it! Over the years, we’ve not only been busy with the local community but we’ve seen a huge proportion of customers that’ve travelled from outside the area. We expanded two years ago into Longframlington to keep up with demand, however, both branches are now running at capacity and we’re unfortunately turning away customers. Opening a new, and bigger site, is very exciting for us as it gives us the opportunity to further innovate the business whilst economically and culturally benefiting the village and surrounding area.”

The Running Fox in Shilbottle offers seating for 50 visitors, not only solving the issue of overflow in Felton and Longframlinton, but offering a community hub. There’ll also be a retail area stocking local produce such as Chainbridge Honey and Bari Tea as well the creation of five full time jobs with further part time job creation over peak seasons. Whilst speaking about the ways in which the expansion will support rural development, Rhys said: “Improving tourism is a really effective way of increasing an area’s economic resilience; given Kris and her team have seen an influx of visitors from outside the area in both Felton and Longframlington, the new Running Fox promises development and stability for the village.”

If you’re looking to launch, expand or diversify your rural business and need advice on any possible funding opportunities, please contact your local office.


Berwick Rugby Club believe that no child should be excluded from the opportunity to participate in sports; they’re heavily involved with local schools and actively encourage young people, of all backgrounds, to get into athletics. In order to continue, their main revenue source, the 25-year-old function room needed to be drastically improved, increasing the appeal of the clubhouse as a venue.

Berwick Rugby Club

The community hub has achieved LEADER funding through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE); a programme created to fund projects that support growth in the rural economy.

Speaking about the refurbishment, Berwick Rugby Club committee member, Chris Budzynski said: “Our sports development officer, for several years now, has gone into first, middle and senior schools in our area, promoting sporting opportunities. This has proved to be very successful and has resulted in increased numbers of youngsters from all backgrounds joining the club; we currently have 400 players, ranging from four years old to veterans. It’s become clear that our survival is integral to building our local community and culture, however, in order to make this opportunity accessible for everyone, we must be able to subsidies it; the deteriorating and ageing condition of our function space made this extremely difficult but we simply couldn’t come to terms with the withdrawal of the programme. We’re over the moon that both George F. White and the Rural Development Programme have recognised the importance of what we’re trying to do!”

In order to secure funding for the refurbishment, Chris, alongside fellow Berwick Rugby Club committee members, worked with our farm team, who took the project on pro-bono. Thanks to the teams hard work and determination, £47,698.74 was secured in March 2019, meaning that the club could move forward with the structural and design work required to achieve completion by the beginning of the 19/20 season, where the club will be competing in the National leagues once again.

Senior Rural Business Consultant at George F. White, Jamie Oliver, said: “It has been extremely rewarding to be able to support Berwick Rugby Club; their efforts in improving the opportunities for children in the area are remarkable and for this to have come to an end due to viability issues would have been terrible. The refurbishment will allow to club to further bolster their presence in the local community, becoming a hub for events and celebrations. Their success is a great example of how important rural development is to sustaining and future proofing our communities.”

GFW Road Show: Your Business, Your Property, Your Opportunity

We invite you to join us at our GFW Road Show.

Our agricultural, planning, architectural, agency and commercial teams will be discussing the opportunities for rural businesses to improve performance and reduce risk within these uncertain times.


  • Characteristics of top performing farms
    What they look like and how to get there
  • Buying and selling land
    What the future holds in these uncertain times
  • Your land, your rights
    Dealing with utility access and maximising your compensation
  • Planning and Development
    Your opportunities, now, and in the future

This is an excellent opportunity for you to understand the current state of the rural business industry as well as meeting our team and receiving expert advice in regards to your next step.

Dates and Venues

Mon 18th Feb – Northallerton Rugby Club, Northallerton DL6 2QF

Tue 19th Feb – Sedgefield Racecourse, Sedgefield TS21 2HW

Wed 20th Feb – Alnwick Rugby Club, Alnwick NE66 1BE

Mon 25th Feb – Duns Rugby Club, Duns TD11 3QQ

Mon 25th Feb – Pocklington Rugby Club, Pocklington YO42 2LP

Tue 26th Feb – Tynedale Rugby Club, Corbridge NE45 5AY


  • 18.00 Welcome
  • 18.30 Presentation
  • 19.30 Light Refreshments

If you would like to attend, please RSVP by following the link.

For more information, please email Emma Gillespie-Payne or call 01665 600164.

LEADER: The Solway, Border and Eden LEADER Programme

The Solway, Border and Eden LEADER Programme has re-opened until noon on Wednesday 30 January 2019. It’s only accepting applications under DEFRA Priority 2 – Support for micro and small businesses (non-agricultural) and farm diversification.

LEADER Cumbria

What is LEADER?

LEADER is a European Union initiative that encourages economic prosperity for rural areas and improving the quality of life of the communities. With the Solway, Border and Eden area covering approximately half of Cumbria; one of the main aims of this call is to encourage significant and sustainable economic growth and increased employment, with the full engagement of local people.

DEFRA Priority 2 – Support for Small & Micro Enterprises and Farm Diversification

Priority 2 was introduced to help a fund number of areas, ranging from new businesses with startup costs, improving community and rural services through to farm diversification projects, cost saving and retaining young people in farming. Priority 2 can help with the purchase of certain capital items, as well as help with the development of infrastructure within the business as a whole.

James Oliver, Assistant Farm Business Consultant at George F. White, says: “The LEADER grant is a great opportunity for farmers and small businesses in Cumbria to help make any changes, progress and secure longevity in their business, or even new ventures. It is really important that we take advantage of these opportunities when they arise due to our uncertain political future.”

The Solway, Border and Eden LEADER Programme has been closed for a number of months due to a staggering volume of interest, with this in mind, George F. White urge farmers, landowners and business owners to submit their expression of interest (EOI) in good time to avoid disappointment. The government has guaranteed funding for RDPE LEADER Programme grants if these are agreed and signed before the UK’s departure from the EU (even if the grant agreements continue after we have left the EU) however, they are working to a tight timescale and if your EOI is accepted, a Full Application would then have to be submitted before 12 noon on 3rd April 2019, with a full project completion before the 30th of September 2020.

Get in touch with James today for more information.