Tag Archive: LEADER grant

LEADER Grant Aids Growth Of Woodland Management Business

Coquetdale Timber, a woodland management and logging business based in Northumberland, is looking forward to a 40% plus growth in business by the end of the current financial year.

The business, set up in March 2017, is a diversification of the J Robson & Son farming operation and is managed by Michael Robson, his brother Andrew and Michael’s son Thomas from their base at Hepple Whitefield Farm near Rothbury.

Whilst there was a business plan the company has enjoyed organic growth over the last three years as their reputation for being able to be flexible on the scale and type of service provided has spread around the region.

“We were approached by an individual not long after we started the business to construct lambing hurdles and now produce in excess of one thousand a year,” said Thomas.

In addition of the delivery of barn seasoned softwood and hardwood logs to a variety of clients across Northumberland and into Tyneside, an area of the business which will see more than 40% growth year on year, the team also provides a wide range of bespoke services including:

  • Low impact forestry services – hand tree felling, tractor and trailer extraction
  • Woodland management
  • Sawmill services with the ability to cut anything up to 27 inches in diameter on-site as well as mobile timber processing with a cutting range up to 15 inches diameter

“Our client base has grown significantly since the business launch and we are now involved in providing feed troughs, cladding, fence posts and rails, raised beds and even cut oak boards which a local company transform into bespoke mantlepieces for clients purchasing a stove from them” advised Mr Robson.

As part of that growth, the family realised that they needed to invest in equipment that would allow them to scale up the business and ensure they were operating efficiently and effectively.

“We contacted George F. White, as they have been assisting us with the wider farming business for several years, for business advice and where we should be going. After looking through the business Jamie recommended the RDPE LEADER grants to help fund the purchase of new equipment” said Michael.

After looking at a variety of equipment options that the business could use to expand, they opted to purchase a new forwarder trailer and winch. George F. White made contact with the Northumberland Uplands Local Action Group (NULAG); a branch of the RDPE LEADER programme which looked at funding a number of different priorities, such as farm diversification, business growth, woodland and processing. From here George F. White worked closely with the Programme and undertook the initial expression of interest submission. Upon this approval, George F. White liaised with Coquetdale Timber to prepare and submit the grant application, and following a successful outcome then prepared and submitted the appropriate claim.

The business took delivery of the equipment in late 2019 and are already seeing the benefits, “The new trailer and winch allow us to access areas in a considered and low impact way that larger operations may not adopt and at the same time ensuring we can undertake tasks efficiently and safely, it really has already proved its value to the business” commented Thomas. “Being a relatively small business the ability to utilise the LEADER grant programme and reduce the cost outlay by 40% is of huge benefit to us as without this funding the business would not have purchased such a large item. We were extremely happy to be able to rely on the team at George F. White to understand our needs and provide the appropriate assistance is invaluable”.

If you would like to discuss your business and explore the potential options for grants or a strategic review please call 0333 920 2220

LEADER Funding Available for Rural Communities

The Coast, Wolds, Wetland and Waterways (CWWW) LEADER Programme has re-opened for two weeks from the 4th January 2019 to the 18th January 2019, accepting applications on all six Defra priorities.

Defra Priorities:

  • Support to increase farm productivity
  • Support micro and small farm businesses (non-agricultural) and farm diversification
  • Support rural tourism
  • Provide rural services
  • Provide cultural and heritage activity
  • Support for increasing forestry productivity


What is LEADER?

LEADER is a European Union initiative that encourages economic prosperity or rural areas and improving the quality of life of the communities. The CWWW Leader Programme covers the East Riding of Yorkshire and Southern Ryedale (excluding Bridlington, Goole and Beverly).

Simon Britton, Partner at land, property and business consultancy, George F. White, said: “Access to LEADER funding is fantastic news for the rural communities in the East Riding of Yorkshire Southern Ryedale; it has been an interesting few years in regards to politics and the economy; as we approach our exit from the European Union, it is extremely important that rural communities take advantage of funding opportunities whilst they are still available.”

The project has been closed to new applicants since July 2018 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 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, it is advised that projects are finished, paid for, and complete grant claims submitted, by 31 March 2019.

Britton added: “This opportunity concentrates on small businesses, farm diversification projects and rural tourism; since the programme opened in 2015, our team have been involved in countless LEADER applications across the North East and Yorkshire with a similar focus. The team have achieved results such as funding for local rugby clubs, holiday accommodation and public animal parks, to name a few. We understand that applying for necessary funding can be a long and complex process, however, many of our team have been raised on farms or in the countryside and are sensitive to the issues and the opportunities that land and property owners and occupiers face in the 21st Century.”

If you have a project that you think would be eligible for the current LEADER fund opportunity, please contact our team on 01677 425301, alternatively, email Simon Britton directly.


Step inside the Cookie Jar

The Cookie Jar is a five-star boutique hotel situated in Alnwick, Northumberland. It’s the ultimate retreat for alternative accommodation and an unconventional entertainment venue in the North East.

The Cookie Jar was formerly St Mary’s Convent, a beautiful and historic building in Bailiffgate. The building has been transformed into a luxury bespoke hotel with 11 magnificent rooms and suites. The owners ensured the key features of the convent were kept in addition to the contemporary decor, giving it that extraordinary and special touch. It’s an opulent vision of modern hospitality and as a result guests have been delighted with the attention to detail.

Cookie Jar

The face behind The Cookie Jar is Debbie Cook – an experienced hotelier and wife of Robert, the award-winning UK hotelier. She was determined to provide a first-class experience in keeping with the history and the traditional aspects of the building.

Establishing The Cookie Jar retreat has been no mean feat. There were so many details involved, across so many different aspects. One key process was the conversion of the building itself and its surrounding land.

Cookie JarHamish Smales, an estate manager at George F. White who worked with Debbie on the project, explains:

“Purchasing the old convent was probably the easiest part. The challenge was creating a luxurious boutique hotel that kept the convent’s beauty in terms of architecture and design but with a modern twist that appealed to guests, all within the client’s budget. Given the idea behind The Cookie Jar, and its impact on tourism in the area, we advised Debbie about the financial support the hotel could potentially receive, if it met specific funding criteria.”

The team looked at and reviewed the range of possible grant opportunities that The Cookie Jar could be applicable too. When advising on the best grant to select, George F. White chose the LEADER programme for the Cookie Jar dream.. The LEADER programme is a European Union funded scheme which provides grants for:

  • small and mid-sized rural businesses;
  • tourism projects;
  • rural enterprises.

“We handled the entire funding application process for Debbie, from beginning to end,” continues Hamish. “This included creating a business plan for Debbie, costings to deliver the project and detailed market research. We had to outline exactly why Debbie and her enterprise should be awarded a grant and provide specific detail on the contribution The Cookie Jar would make to Alnwick and the wider Northumberland region.

For example, we explained that workers involved in constructing the hotel would be hired from the local area which included local builders and merchants. Hospitality staff would also be hired locally by the hotel in the form of permanent contracts, and local suppliers would also be involved – for example, The Cookie Jar only provide locally sourced food from local food producers that is created and prepared by renowned local chef and Mine Host of The Cookie Jar, Mick Holland – on a long-term basis.”

The application for the LEADER programme involves two key stages.Cookie Jar

  • An outline application to Northumberland County Council;
  • A Local Action Group who decides whether funding should be granted based on a number of different criteria.

LEADER is a highly competitive scheme meaning the application submission was absolutely fundamental to securing the funding.

“We were delighted when The Cookie Jar was awarded nearly £70,000 worth of grant support,” explains Hamish. “This funding has been so important in helping Debbie achieve her vision of providing a luxurious, cosy, and comfortable retreat in the heart of Northumberland. It was a very tough application process, and bigger projects, focused on rural tourism and business, were rejected, so it was very pleasing to tell Debbie that we’d been successful in rewarding her with the cash injection for The Cookie Jar project.”


The Right Support and Skill Set

“We were told to speak to George F. White by a friend and I am so pleased we did!” adds Debbie. “They worked so closely with us and excellently prepared the funding application. As a result, we received almost £70,000, I was absolutely over the moon!”

“By winning the grant support, we were able to design and build a higher specification of the hotel than what was initially decided. It really helped us to achieve than five-star rating, that is in such high demand in the hospitality sector. I really appreciate the amount of contact and time Hamish spent with the team in making this dream a reality. George F. White, I cannot thank you enough!”

Cookie Jar

Model Business

The grant process not only provided a substantial of funding but, by applying in such detail for financial support, we were able to create a comprehensive business model for Debbie that can be replicated across the region and nationally too.

“As a result, Debbie now has a sound business model that she can roll out across other locations and regions if she does wish to expand her rural tourism offering”, continues Hamish. “We’re thrilled with the grant amount awarded and we wish Debbie and The Cookie Jar team the best of luck in this brand-new hospitality venture!”

To find out more about The Cookie Jar, visit their website.