17 May 2002

EMERGENCY GRANTS CAN

HELP A LOT

Though they are temporary

in nature and operate in a

different way from most of

the other grants in this

guide, emergency grants

during the F&M crisis

were a great help to

many producers

was one who benefited

COUNTY Durham beef and sheep producer Patricia Milner has nothing but praise for the officials who dealt with her application for a £5000 business recovery grant to help market the farms bed-and-breakfast enterprise.

The business is heavily reliant on local tourism and like many others, had suffered badly during the foot-and-mouth crisis.

"There are six bedrooms and they are usually fairly full from Easter to October. Last year I closed in February and did not re-open until the New Year," says Patricia, of the 117ha (290 acres) East Mellwaters Farm, Bowes.

"Getting the grant was very simple and I was given help to fill all the forms in. I was impressed because the money arrived just three weeks after I sent in the application."

Patricia and her husband, William, heard about the grant through a friend who is the regional representative for Farmstay UK. She was put in touch with One NorthEast, which is part of the local development agency, and was given an interview just 10 days later.

The money she received came from the Rural Business Recovery Fund. It was subject to a number of criteria and was only available to a rural enterprise where the accounts were kept separate from the farm business.

"I had to submit accounts which compared last years figures with profits from the year before. That was easy enough because in 2001 there was no income from the bed and breakfast at all."

There were some conditions applying to the grant, the most important being that it could only be spent on marketing.

"I had to submit a plan to show exactly how I aimed to bring in more business and I was told someone might check up to see how the money had been spent."

A direct mailing campaign to potential guests and the development of a computer database of past customers are two ways in which the grant has helped. The rest has been put towards building a web-site and advertising in the local and national Press.

Patricia Milner applied for help in marketing her farms B&B.