The Rural Start-Up Fund

Forest Holidays, partners of The Prince’s Countryside Fund, are passionate about sustainable rural tourism. Ensuring resilient communities and a prosperous local economy means supporting the people living and working at the very heart of the rural sector.

This is why Forest Holidays and The Prince’s Countryside Fund have teamed up to create The Rural Start-Up Fund, an exciting opportunity for rural businesses to receive financial support as they embark on a new business venture.

One of the biggest barriers to setting up a new business is the initial financial demand, and this, coupled with the challenges of working rurally, is why we are striving to support new entrepreneurs across the UK.

A total of £5,000 is available in the Rural Start-Up Fund in 2021 to be awarded to one winning business or shared between a number of rural start-ups. In addition, as part of the Rural Start-Up Fund, the successful applicant(s) will receive mentoring support from a relevant expert in the Forest Holidays team to further guide and support them.

If you are a rural entrepreneur who is embarking on a new business venture, keep an eye on this page for when we open the scheme for its second year.

Applications have now closed.

Keep an eye on this page to meet our new 2021 winners!
Sophie with vines

Meet our 2020 winner, Sophie Willingale

Sophie took over running of Bow in the Cloud Vineyard, a family start-up in rural Malmesbury, Wiltshire, following the death of her father in 2018, who planted the vines during his retirement. Upon hearing that she had won the £5,000 award, Sophie said: “I’m thrilled to have won the funding from the Rural Start-Up Fund. At times over the last year things have been a struggle, so having some external support and the opportunity for mentoring from Forest Holidays is something I really value as well as the financial help.

“I’ve fallen in love with the vineyard and have been learning how to manage it and develop the business – with a lot of support from local people. It’s been a great joy to bring back community harvest days, provide opportunities for others to learn like myself, and see the vineyard being used by the community. 2020 is also the year that I’m officially taking over the vineyard business and buying the family land, so the future feels a lot more secure. The future as a whole feels exciting and I can’t wait to see what will be achieved over the next few years.”

“The mentoring sessions are great. Gemma and Sam are kind and smart and they are exactly what I need. I’m constantly amazed by how they are happy to just call on any of the company’s staff with their expertise to give me advice – whether it’s groundworks or branding.”

Sophie Willingale, 2020 Winner

Related links
Our Farm Resilience Programme
Get Up to Speed with New Holland
Discover our work with new entrants
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