Grant scheme urges Suffolk businesses to apply for funding

CLARE: Launch of new cafe in Clare Castle Country Park'Clare Castle Country Park, Malting Lane, Clare.'The cafe is opening for business on Friday 28. The project has been put together by the Clare Castle Country Park Trustees and Richard Palmer, owner of the Number One Deli and cafe in Clare.'Picture Mark Westley
CLARE: Launch of new cafe in Clare Castle Country Park'Clare Castle Country Park, Malting Lane, Clare.'The cafe is opening for business on Friday 28. The project has been put together by the Clare Castle Country Park Trustees and Richard Palmer, owner of the Number One Deli and cafe in Clare.'Picture Mark Westley
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Businesses in need of a cash boost are being urged to apply for the Wool Towns’ Leader programme.

The initiative – run by Suffolk County Council – provides grants to rural businesses and organisations to help increase growth and productivity.

The project supports businesses from food and drink producers, to farm shops, rural crafts and community projects.

Clare Castle Country Park was awarded a £12,800 grant towards the development of a railway-themed cafe, which has since helped to increase visitors and improve customer experience.

The trust hopes to see a rise of 25 per cent in visitors over the next three years.

“The Leader programme enabled us to open Platform One, a much-needed café in Clare Castle Country Park,” said trustees chairman Geoffrey Bray.

“Without this funding, we would almost certainly have had to delay the project, which, in its first few months, has exceeded all our expectations.”

Another recipient of the grant was The Edible Museum, based in Sible Hedingham.

The artisan chocolatier start-up, received a £10,000 grant to develop a workshop to increase productivity.

Prior to the grant, food artist Sarah Hardy was working from her home kitchen, which was impractical for her business which required a temperature controlled environment.

Following the grant, she was able to purchase a workshop with sufficient space.

Mrs Hardy creates high-quality sculptures made from chocolate, similar to artefacts found in museums.

She had previously set up a crowdfunding campaign to more than £10,000 to launch her unique enterprise.

Programme manager Gavin Talbot said: “The grants are enabling rural businesses and organisations to put their good ideas into action, helping to grow business and employ more staff.

“They receive advice and guidance throughout the application process and a strong application has a very high chance of success, so now is a good time to apply.”

For more details, go to www.suffolk.gov.uk/leaderruralfunding.