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Prince of Wales delivers £50,000 boost for Teesdale farmers
THE Prince of Wales delivered a £50,000 shot in the arm for rural farmers during his visit to Middleton-in-Teesdale, County Durham, today.
During his visit, it was announced that the Prince's Countryside Fund (PCF) had made the grant to Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services (UTASS), which provides support, advice and training to hundreds of farmers and their families.
The money will be used to fund six employees, and follows an earlier PCF grant of more than £36,000 in 2010.
Thanks to that grant, 54 farmers have received IT training, ensuring they operate their businesses more efficiently.
And during a tour of the UTASS offices, Prince Charles met some of those who are more computer savvy as a result of the training.
Sheila Tarn, and her son Christopher, from Toby Hill Farm, Egglesburn, near Eggleston, turned to UTASS for help when they needed to set up a website for a self-catering cottage they had developed on their 750-acre farm.
“We needed help designing the website and we can definitely say people have booked as a direct result of the website,” said Sheila.
“We needed help and UTASS gave very good training to design the website.”
Tenant farmers Graham and Sandra Wilkinson are another couple whose business has been helped by UTASS.
The couple completed a training course to brush up their computer skills.
“Everything has to be done online,” said Graham.
He said the prince had asked about life at Bollihope Shield, Frosterly, where the couple keep 700 sheep – mainly fell ewes – and 20 cattle.
“He knows what he is talking about – he is very knowledgeable about farming and doesn't ask daft questions,” added Graham.
“I bet he would love to just come an spend some time here.”
Prince Charles concluded his tour of UTASS with a visit to the youth drop-in centre where he joined 15-year-olds Dominic Rudge, from Cross House Farm, Holwick, and Joe Hutchinson, from Eggleston, for a game of pool.
The Teesdale School pupils have been regulars at the drop-in for several years.
Dominic said: “It's a great place to meet up. We live in a rural area and because we all live that far apart, it is good to meet up with friends either just to play pool or to go on a trip.”
UTASS project manager Diane Spark said the organisation was “thrilled and delighted” with the PCF's £50,000 grant.
“The prince seems to be the only person doing things for the countryside and rural areas – and long may it continue.
“From our point of view his visit could not have gone any better and I hope he left feeling the same.”
Since it was set up in 2010, the PCF has given £1.7m to 50 projects across the UK dedicated to tackling rural isolation, low farming incomes, the decline of rural communities and lack of access to training.