Otterburn racing yard celebrates expansion following European grant funding

16 Jan 2018

A farm diversification based at Otterburn,  Northumberland it is celebrating its successful expansion with the support of a grant from a European rural funding scheme.

The LEADER programme grant, worth a total of £9,035.00 and amounting to 40 percent of the total project cost, has helped Girsonfield Stud & Racing to create jobs, increase the number of stables,  improve their training facilities and care of the horses with new rubber mats and a new horse walker.

Owner Susan Corbett  said:   “The funding from LEADER has really helped us up our game and improve the facilities for the horses.  We now have 32 horses in training, from only 8 when we started the training yard 4 years ago. We have had 12 wins and 24 places since April both on the Flat and over Jumps and we are currently in the top 10% of Jumps trainers in the UK. I am very proud of our success and we have expanded our staff from 4 last year to 8 this year. We have a very young team with my son James as the yard jockey and Dillan Hurst our amateur jockey. Most of the team have come here straight from racing school and we have a great team in place.”

Northumberland County Councillor and local ward member John Riddle said:   “  Northumberland communities are being urged to make the most of grants available in coastal and upland areas  before we exit  the EU.  

“ LEADER  Local Action Groups (LAGs) in Northumberland Coast and Lowlands and Northumberland Uplands are  keen to make sure that communities, farmers, foresters and small businesses make full use of the funding still available to them.

“The team is particularly keen to to hear about new project ideas that create good jobs or that support and enrich the lives of rural communities and can be delivered by December 2018.”

Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham attended a celebration event along with racehorse owners and members of the Northumberland Uplands LEADER Local Action Group (NULAG).  Girsonfield specialises in training both Flat and National Hunt horses, which is of particular interest to Mr Opperman who is a keen amateur jockey.  

He said: "As a keen jockey myself, I was delighted to be able to celebrate Girsonfield’s expansion as a result of a grant from the LEADER programme. It is vital that rural businesses like Girsonfield are able to keep improving and expanding, and I have no doubt that the superb new facilities at the stables will bring continued success to Girsonfield."

NULAG chair, Terry Carroll said:  “Girsonfield Stud is a fine example of a rural business looking to develop and grow, assisted by some grant aid, and so sustain the vitality of Northumberland’s economy. A wide range of other rural businesses have been helped in the current Leader programme. We are hopeful that a similar locally driven programme can be developed for the post Brexit era, to maintain this vital source of support for rural businesses.”

LEADER Grants are available to improve the productivity of farming, help small businesses to grow, support rural tourism, develop our culture and heritage as well as provide rural services.

The eligible LEADER funding  area includes the market towns of Morpeth, Berwick on Tweed, Alnwick, Amble, Wooler, Rothbury, Hexham and Haltwhistle; and  includes the Northumberland National Park area and Northumberland Coast Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which stretches from Berwick on Tweed to the River Coquet estuary, including Holy Island.

Anyone with an idea for a project or who wants to find out more about LEADER funding, can contact Gill Cowell, the Programme Officer: gillian.cowell@northumberland.gov.uk or speak to a local NULAG member. More details  are available on the LEADER website: www.nuleader.eu.

The LEADER scheme is part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) and is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).  The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) manages the LEADER scheme nationally and will make the payments to successful applicants.