Meeting our Rural Start Up Fund winners

June 19, 2023

We recently celebrated the success of our Rural Start Up Fund with Forest Holidays, which has supported entrepreneurs and start-up businesses based in the rural areas of Britain since 2020.

Bringing together the successful applicants, whose businesses range from paddleboarding to plants, the business owners shared two days together at Forest Holidays, Delamere, to enhance their businesses, discuss learnings to date and introduce their work to like-minded entrepreneursincluding a paddleboarding session with SUP Lass Paddle Adventures. 

The business owners who took part in the event are: 

  • Caroline Dawson of SUP Lass Adventures, who was awarded in 2023. Caroline owns SUP Lass, which was established in Nercwys, North Wales in 2021 during the Covid-19 lockdown, and prides itself in offering unique paddleboarding experiences that combine paddleboarding with local food, accommodation and the countryside. 
  • Vicky Smith of West End Barns who was awarded in 2022. Vicky began West End Barns in March 2021 by selling homemade ice cream from the farm gate to people walking by during lockdown. Today, it’s a full-scale farm shop and favourite among locals in Harpenden. 
  • Jamie Bending of Ergrownomics, based in Herefordshire, who was awarded funding in 2020 for a concept he began developing in 2011- a business specialising in the production of spatially-efficient growing systems and planters for home use. 

Charlotte Thorogood, Strategic Partnerships Manager at Forest Holidays said: “We’re proud to support local start up businesses. The last couple of days have been a great way to collaborate and learn from one another. The Start up Fund is just the beginning; we’re excited to watch these brands grow, and we want to continue to be involved in their journey. 

A total of £5,000 has been awarded to winning businesses or shared between a number of rural startups per year since the programme began. In addition, as part of the Rural Start-Up Fund, the successful applicants receive mentoring support from a relevant expert in the Forest Holidays team to further guide and support them. 

Keith Halstead, Executive Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund said: “The Prince’s Countryside Fund is delighted to be able to offer these opportunities to build innovative and community-led businesses through our partnership with Forest Holidays. It is great to be able to see how the entrepreneurial skills of the business owners are helping rural communities, and the importance of continued learning from our partnership with Forest Holidays informs the development of a sustainable business.” 

Find out more about the Rural Start Up Fund