Cotswolds LEADER Success Stories

As a new LEADER programme we are currently working through the first of we hope many applications that will prove successful in securing LEADER funding, so hope to have our own stories from 2016 appearing here over the coming months.

In the meantime here are a small selection of projects funded by the previous scheme across the country.

Farm productivity

Park Farm, a dairy farm of 550 cattle was given the chance to improve its energy efficiency by installing a Vacuum on Demand pump. The vacuum pump can run at slow speeds, only speeding up when extra vacuum is needed. The vacuum pumps are used to produce sufficient air flow to operate the milk harvesting equipment and represent 80% of the energy used by the milking equipment components. The pump enabled the dairy to lower its energy consumption and energy emissions, as well as significantly reducing noise in the dairy shed. The LEADER grant also enabled the dairy to purchase a heat exchanger, which uses the heat from the milk refrigeration units to heat water which in turn is used to wash the milking plant. To improve the efficiency of the dairy further, the grant paid towards an automatic dipping and flushing system. The milking clusters automatically spray teat dip on the teats and then wash themselves between cows to prevent cross infection, this significantly aids the animal health and welfare and also improves the efficiency of the dairy.

Bob Ives, owner of the business explained why the funding was so important, "The energy saving items will not only utilise electricity more efficiently, but have helped the business maintain margins during low milk prices and the animal health items have had great welfare benefits which have also led to financial savings". 

Rectory Farm in Oxfordshire. Secured £13,599 LEADER funding to aid the efficiency of the farm holding by providing a new fit for purpose cold store to remove field heat and to cold store fruits and field vegetables. The farm over nearly 1,000 acres and is predominantly winter wheat and oil seed rape, along with soft fruits, asparagus and other vegetables. The fruit, asparagus and other vegetables form part of a substantial pick your own enterprise which operates during the summer months, produce is also sold through local farm shops and other outlets. The new cold store allows higher value crops to be grown, allowing their quality to be maintained and prolonging shelf life. It will also reduce electricity costs. Total Project cost £53,526.

Lock Bank Farm is located in the Upper Lune Valley on the slopes of the Howgill fells close to the town of Sedbergh. Unusually for a Cumbrian hill farm, this has a dairy enterprise with thirty eight Friesian cows as well as beef and sheep enterprises and the family has its own bottled milk delivery round. The business currently sells a proportion of its milk through on-farm processing and delivery of bottled milk in Sedbergh. Surplus milk had been sold to First Milk but they no longer collecting it and with no other milk buyer having been found, the family researched ways of adding value to this surplus milk. The £15,193.60 LEADER grant assisted the farm in purchasing ice cream manufacturing equipment but in the long term the farm would like to investigate the commercial viability of clotted cream and butter production. Total Project Costs: £37,984

DC and CA Knipe is a small free range poultry producer and sheep farmer. The business currently operates a milk round and sells its poultry mostly at farmers markets around the County. The establishment of an on-farm slaughter house and white room facility would allow all processing to take place on farm which will reduce transport costs, allow for quality control and provide customers with assurances on bird welfare. The £10,040 LEADER grant was to assist with outfitting an existing farm building, installation of chiller facilities and additional equipment. Total project costs: £25,100

Farm diversification

Coverwood Farm, a 200 acre beef farm near Peaslake is now able to cater events with local produce from a custom made Airstream trailer thanks to a £20,306 grant from the Surrey Hills LEADER Grant Programme.  Running a programme of garden visits, opera festivals and weddings, the new trailer is able to showcase the farm's own produce as well as local suppliers, giving visitors a quality, artisan food offering from a quality and unique platform. Coverwood has been farmed by the same family for the last 60 years and they have been looking for ways to diversify as beef profit margins have been squeezed.  The family were planning to increase visitor numbers, weddings and corporate events and needed to provide a quality catering offering to present the right image as well as increasing visitor spending. Previously visitors were offered tea and cake from a garage and weddings were previously catered with a BBQ. 

The Airstream is branded with the Coverwood logo and offers a menu of home produced beef and lamb burgers and steaks, locally sources sausages, local cakes, seasonal salads and coffee. The trailer has also been used at events such as Cranleigh Show and Munstead Horse Trials. By selling more of their own beef, the farm should be able eventually to increase herd numbers, thus bringing the farm back to its roots and ensuring its stability for the future.

E J Lacey & Sons. Brothers Daniel and Gideon Lacey are the seventh generation of Lacey’s farming at Bolter End near Marlow. But the family-run dairy of E J Lacey & Sons only began bottling and home-delivering its creamy Guernsey milk and farmfresh eggs as an experiment in 2007. The pilot venture was an overnight sensation and the brothers quickly found themselves victims of their own success, unable to process enough milk to satisfy growing customer demand. With the help of a LEADER grant, the dairy is now installing a fully mechanised bottling plant and purchasing a new refrigerated delivery van which together should allow for a fourfold increase in home and shop deliveries, as well as increasing supplies to the farm shop. Total grant awarded: £40,000.

Woodhorn Group (John Pitts). A family run business with 1500 acre organic arable and dairy farm. Milk is supplied to “the Organic Milk cooperative who also supplies Yeo Valley organic yogurts. Farm has had two Leader grants The first enabled further diversification into producing and marketing a range of composts and soil conditioners under the Earth Cycle brand, providing eco-friendly, peat-free products for use by trade and domestic customers. The second LEADER funded project developed and implemented a new IT system to link up and significantly improve the management of the diversified elements of the business.

Foxley Equestrian (Foxley Farm near Kidderminster). Julian Godwin Limited consists of a 300 herd of cows and a trading business dealing in hay, straw, fertiliser and seed. It is owned and run by Julian Godwin.  The £34,977 granted to Julian Godwin Limited will help fund a new venture. Foxley Equestrian includes a 12-stable livery yard and a 20m by 60m arena, with each stable having its own tack room. It will be managed and run by Mr Godwin's wife Vicki, who has background in equestrianism and is a qualified horse riding instructor and lecturer in equine science.  Mr Godwin said: "The new venture has already provided employment for Vicki, as yard manager. As the business grows, we hope to be able to employ one or more people either part or full time, and as new liveries fill all of the stables the turnover of Julian Godwin Limited will increase significantly. The LEADER funding allowed us to construct the new venture as we wanted it – without the funding we would have had to reduce the scale of the project, making it less viable."  


Witherslack Woodlands secured a LEADER grant of £8,000 to but a state of the art firewood processor which uses hardwoods such as Oak, Ash and Hazel coppiced on the estate. The price of the estates firewood has tripled in five years. Witherslack now produces 1,000 tonnes of firewood per year and supplies 400 customers. This new work has helped create three new forestry jobs on the estate.

Northumberland Firewood Supplies is a sole trader whose business carries out low impact small scale woodland management producing firewood. The project funded by a LEADER grant of £16,623 was for the purchase of forestry equipment, forestry tractor and winch, timber trailer, firewood processor and conveyor. The business was mainly manual but the new equipment will increase the productivity and efficiency of the business.!

Lower Gade Farm in Little Gaddesden. After 20 years of building up his business, forester and firewood supplier Rod Wilson reached the point where he had to invest in state-of-the-art machinery in order to keep up with soaring demand for firewood. That’s when he turned to the LEADER grant for help.  With an £18,000 grant came the state-of-the-art processing machinery – and an 200 extra tonnes of firewood per year. Now that’s an outcome that makes the paperwork well worth the effort.

But it's not Rod's business that has benefited. "Most of our timber is cut from less than five miles away," Rod says. "We carry out a lot of conservation work for the National Trust on its Ashridge Estate.  Our new equipment means that we can bring much more of the Trust's woodland back into productive management - protecting wildlife, providing fuel for the growing market and improving public access".

Layton Timbers. David Layton has been in the timber and wood business for over two decades, but a couple of years ago faced the issue of not being able to keep up with growing demand. This is an issue that many rural business owners will face and David did what others can do: he applied for and received LEADER grant funding. The £25,000 he received helped him purchase new machinery. David says: “Before Leader we had an old tractor-driven log-splitter and it took a day and a half to fill a container. This new cutter, splitter and loader does the same job in half an hour - with a lot less back ache!”.

Culture and Heritage

Museum of Army Flying.  The only way to view the flying area was from ground level in front of the museum. An elevated platform would give a better view of the aircraft both on the ground and in the air. Thanks to a £39,500 grant from the Plain Action LEADER Grant Programme the museum was able to construct a balcony on the Museum of Army Flying’s north east side (airfield facing) provided the museum with an observation and interpretation area enabling the general public, aviation enthusiasts and specialists to photograph and view the operation of military fixed–wing aircraft and helicopters, including display and historic flights.

The addition of the balcony, 86% funded by Plain Action LEADER, has allowed the Museum of Army Flying to review the nature of the displays it provides, with a higher vantage point from which to view them. This, in turn, has helped the museum to increase the number of visitors. It has also allowed aviation photographers, both professional and amateur,to have better access and positioning to photograph the displays as well as individual aircraft. Total project cost/value £45,497, duration 1 year.

Citadel Bridge at Basing House. Basing House was a major Tudor Palace and Castle and once rivaled Hampton Court Palace in size and opulence. It is located in Old Basing, close to the River Loddon, and is now run as a visitor centre and museum by the Hampshire Cultural Trust. Today, only its foundations and earthworks remain, which are listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. This project aimed to restore the original route across the castle moat, by creating a new footbridge for visitors that would link the castle to the house. The bridge was made to replicate a defensive device, in common use in the 16th Century. It zig zags back and forth in order to force aggressors to present the best possible target to the defenders of the castle. Unfortunately both the castle and original house were demolished by parliamentary troops during the civil war in what was one of the last great battles of the campaign.

The new oak bridge looks rather impressive and improves visitor access to the ‘citadel’ area with it’s Norman Castle remains (bailey and ringwork bank) and the remains of the Tudor House. It spans the western ditch of the Norman bailey, sailing over the excavated remains of the western gatehouse. The project received £9,900 of LEADER gran funding in 2011 towards the bridge and it has since been well received by visitors to the newly interpreted and developed attraction.

Micro and Small Business Enterprise

Real Cooking.  Relocation and expansion of a catering company, specialising in catering for private and corporate clients, to Castledown Business Park, Ludgershall. The application to Plain Action LEADER was for grant investment of £9,999 to purchase equipment to fit out the new commercial unit, enabling the company to expand and grow in the future, employing local people and supporting the local economy.  Following the installation of the equipment, Real Cooking has been able to increase the workload which in turn has meant that they have been able to take on more staff.  Total project cost/value £22,379, duration 6 months.

Frewer and Co Engineers Ltd was formed in 2003 and offer specialised design services to the aerospace, power generation and automotive industries. Since the company formed, their customer base has grown and they have expanded their service with engineers who are experts in their fields and have extensive experience in the supply of professional design and analysis for industry. To enable this growth to continue, the company approached Surrey Hills LEADER for a grant of £14,521 towards the purchase of advanced design tools and development of a website to increase business capabilities and open up new markets. The new IT equipment and associated marketing has already helped secure new contracts and created more jobs within the organisation. The new equipment allowed them to increase the scope of services offered to customers and attract new projects. The grant also facilitated the development of an up to date website to help promote the new company capabilities. As well as securing business resilience, the grant has helped to provide a local workplace for aspiring engineers in a rural area.

Rural Tourism

Miller’s Ark Farm based near Hook, specialises in breeding a wide variety of animals, including Irish Moiled rare breed cattle, traditional belted galloways, rare breed sheep, pygmy goars, kune kune pigs to name a few. It also houses donkeys, ducks, geese turkeys and chicken. Visitors are welcome, giving people a rare opportunity to get up close to the animals and experience life on a farm. The LEADER grant paid for a new car park enabling more people to come to open days and a little train to carry visitors from the car park to the farm.  Liz, who manages the business said, "LEADER has enabled us to encourage more visitors. This in turn provides an opportunity to reach more people and teach about rural life and farming. We also encourage those with disabilities to visit, and many visitors have told me how much pleasure the visit has given them".

Walking with Offa is a cooperation project involving seven Local Action Groups, and was developed to improve the economic prosperity of the 
English/Welsh border without damaging the environment. It aims to improve the walking product, run business and community engagement; and promote walking; development of and promotion sustainable transport. Outcomes: Range of complimentary activities to develop walking along the border
including pub walks and promotional beer in Shropshire hills, shared logo and cartoons featuring King Offa, activity to develop sustainable transport offer of the border. (other links for the other areas are available)

Woodford Mill. The conversion of historic Stone Mill into B and B Accommodation with the establishment of a Chandlery and Tea Room. In addition the restoration of original Water Mill to provide Hydro Power to New Facilities. Outcomes: 2 New Jobs Created, 2499 Overnight Stays.

Nature Tourism Triangle To develop the unrealised potential of Nature Tourism as a key economic driver for the area of Scarborough to Hull and across the Humber and the Wolds. Thus also raising awareness of the need to protect and enhance environments. Doing what LEADER does best, the project brought together a partnership of key players and the nature tourism product is now recognised and included in key local authority/tourism future plans where it was not included before the project. An investment prospectus has been developed and significant public and private funding has been levered in to develop visitor facilities. Businesses have started up and new products are now on offer by existing businesses.

Hopleys Family Camping.  Originally a fruit farm, the Hopleys site in Bewdley was converted to a camping and caravan site 13 years ago. It can accommodate up to 100 caravans/tents requiring electric hook ups and an additional 100 tents which do not require electric hook ups. In addition the site also has four Native American Tipis, a Yurt, a Bell Tent Village and a Shepherd’s Hut, all of which are hired out during the season. The site also hosts a music festival in June at which the daytime acts are all from local schools or colleges. It is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike. The site also has a Farm Shop, Cafe and Fishing Pool which are rented out and operated by different businesses.  The £34,120 grant from LEADER has gone towards paying for a new pavilion, which has a licensed bar, catering facilities and it will host live music events with an expected extra 4,000 visitors resulting from this investment. 2,500 being visitors staying two nights or more and 1,500 being day visitors.

Aztec Adventure Aqua Park.  The Aztec Adventure Centre at Upton Warren comprises a 20 acre lake plus 20 acres of surrounding land and provides a wide range of high quality water sports including sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, raft building as well as hire of pedalos, stand up paddle boards and kayaks. There is also a climbing wall, high and low level rope courses, a tunnel complex, archery, bushcraft plus team building challenges and events for corporate groups. The Aqua Park opened in June 2017 and is a series of inflatable modules joined together and anchored to the lake to create an inflatable obstacle course. There are few outdoor aqua parks in the UK. Prior to this one, the nearest to Worcestershire was more than an hour's drive away. The launch of the Aqua Park has created additional jobs with 10 lifeguard posts and six Aztec crew posts on a part time seasonal basis. All those appointed are young people living in Worcestershire or returning from college or university for the summer. A total of £14,397 was awarded by LEADER towards the cost of purchasing an Aqua Park. This grant was matched by £21,596 private funding towards the overall cost.  Jim Spence, HR Manager at Aztec, said: "The opportunity to bid for LEADER funding for a new initiative was both very welcome and timely as Aztec Adventure continued its journey towards sustainability and profitability." adding "The paperwork may appear daunting at first but the excellent staff from LEADER guide you through every stage of the process and are always available to provide support and assistance. The process also enhances the development of your proposal as the procedure helps you focus on potential challenges and develop solution which make your project more viable."

Rural Services

Broad Chalke Community Hub. The project has preserved vital amenities by establishing a community hub, comprising a shop, post office and coffee shop within an underutilised community building. During the first year of opening turnover was greater than projected budget. Benefiting 22 suppliers within a 15 mile radius, accounting for a third of the shop turnover. This demonstrates a real benefit to the local economy. The centre is home to the village post office, the village archive, a thriving coffee shop and a small village bakery. The local police officer uses the upstairs office as a base. Two worship services take place in the building per month. This is an example of a thriving community hub. The business model supports a full time shop manager and a team of volunteers who staff the shop.

Chilbolton is a village that runs for 1.5 miles along a river,with the village hall at one end and the church at the other. The village hall is in use all the time. The PCC wanted another community venue, and with a grant of £7,000 from Plain Action LEADER towards the addition of a kitchen and toilets the church is now used for meetings, concerts, plays and recitals, by both those in the village and outside, giving a welcome additional source of revenue.  The Church has become more family-friendly and parents now realise that they can bring young children to events and services without having to dash away, and seating capacity has actually increased!! Total project cost/value £55,000, duration 6 months.

The Barrow Hill recreation ground had not seen any improvements for over twenty years so, as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, a complete refurbishment was undertaken. A grant of £9,500 from Plain Action LEADER helped to fund the hard area games courts for basketball, netball and football. A transformation has taken place that has resulted in the play area becoming the centre of the village. It has also brought people together to consider how the pavilion on the sports field can be refurbished. Total project cost/value £14,000, duration 4 months.

To find out more about applying for a Cotswolds LEADER grant visit our Call for Projects Page, or contact our Programme team.


For more information go direct to the Rural Development European Commission website

This project is part financed by the  European Agricultural Fund for European Development 2014-20: Europe investing in rural areas