Nearly 50 farmers and landowners in the areas of the Somerset Levels worst-hit by the winter floods are getting their businesses back on track thanks to donations from the Somerset Farm Recovery Fund.

The Royal Bath and West of England Society has announced it has paid out all the money generated by the fund – well in excess of £300,000 – to 47 farmers and landowners.

Read also: Flood-hit farmers – how you can help

The fund was launched earlier in the year following a generous donation from a local farming family who were concerned by the difficulties being faced by many in the farming community following last winter’s devastating floods.

Applications were invited from land occupiers whose livelihoods had been affected by the flooding and where there had been a loss of production.

John Alvis, chairman of the Somerset Farm Recovery Fund, said: “The generosity of the general public, together with the match funding from the Somerset Community Foundation, has provided much-needed financial support for those struggling to put their lives and businesses back on an even keel. No-one should be in any doubt as to the difference this fund has made.”

“We are overwhelmed by the generosity of people and the support we have been given. The arrival of the cheque has saved our business and for that we are most earnestly grateful.”
Flood fund recipient

The society has thanked everyone for their contributions, from the first donation by a Somerset farming family, to the involvement of Justin Sargent and the Somerset Community Foundation, the kindness of the general public and also the generosity of individuals in providing auction prizes to raise funds through an online auction.

One recipient wrote: “We are overwhelmed by the generosity of people and the support we have been given. The arrival of the cheque has saved our business and for that we are most earnestly grateful.”

However, while the Somerset Farm Recovery Fund comes to a close, efforts to raise the funding necessary to tackle the long-term needs of the levels and moors for the benefit of future generations continue apace.

The Somerset Levels Relief Fund is approaching various organisations and charitable trusts to secure funding for a 20 year action plan drawn up by Somerset County Council in conjunction with stakeholders and interested parties.

Edwin White, chairman of the society’s agricultural policy group, said: “The society has not taken its eye off the ball in securing funding for the long-term future of the levels.

“In the meantime, through the kindness and generosity of so many individuals and organisations, in just over four months we have been able to collect and distribute a large amount of money to where it was needed.”