Lottery cash to boost North East village revival scheme

VILLAGES in Northumberland and County Durham are among those benefiting from a lottery fund supporting the start-up of rural businesses.

VILLAGES in Northumberland and County Durham are among those benefiting from a lottery fund supporting the start-up of rural businesses.

The BIG Lottery Fund’s Village SOS scheme aims to kick-start a rural revival, particularly in isolated areas that are suffering due to an aging population and the closure of local shops and services.

Lynemouth Community Trust, in Northumberland, has received £30,000 for its scheme that aims to “up-cycle” unwanted rubbish into new items people will want to buy.

Trust manager Andrew Gooding said the idea was “not recycling in its usual form”.

“It’s much more craft-based,” he said. “It’s taking goods that are of no particular use and adding something to make them different. Some of that will be clothing, but some of it will be more creative items.”

Mr Gooding said the hope was that the project, which takes its lead from similar schemes in America, would tap into the existing textile-working skills that people from the area have after working in the factories that used to surround Ashington.

The BIG grants of between £10,000 and £50,000 are available to help rural communities with less than 3,000 people develop plans for projects that answer a local need or improve services for local people.

Other recipients in the North East include the Milfield Heavy Horse Association, in Northumberland, which has been offered £29,700 to hold an annual festival of working horses, £25,000 for the Fontburn Internet Project in Ewesley, Northumberland, which is trying to bring broadband to the tiny hamlet, and £29,500 for the Middleton Plus Development Trust in Middleton-in-Teesdale, County Durham, who will provide a range of family activities and courses for residents.

Philip Nicholson, chair of Belford Community Group, which has been awarded £25,000 for a new heritage centre and history trail in the Northumberland village, said the money was a great boost and would ultimately help support the local economy.

“We’ve had a temporary heritage exhibition in one of the buildings on the High Street for the past two years and it has been a success, but that space is no longer available, so this money will help to convert two rooms in another building to house all the artefacts and photos.

“It will also allow us to develop an accessible village trail, identifying and marking out all the points of historic interest over a 40 to 45 minute walk.

“Hopefully, if people come in to do the trail they’ll stop at the shops or the pub in the village and that will generate income for local businesses and hopefully support employment.”

For more information about the BIG Lottery Fund’s Village SOS scheme, visit www.villagesos.org.uk

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