Accelerating rural business growth

Sponsored Northumberland companies are being boosted by large-scale support programmes, which are helping them to diversify and supercharge their growth plans across the rural economy. Advance Northumberland looks at the success to date – and urges businesses who want to benefit to get in touch.

“I’m really optimistic about the future,” says Ralph Thompson, owner of Alnwick-based Silvermoor Ltd. “We have loads of new products in the pipeline to launch and also opportunities with export as well.” These are exciting times for Ralph and his team, who produce haylage for the equestrian, dairy and poultry sectors. Silvermoor’s growth has been supported by the North of Tyne Rural Business Growth Service Programme, which helps micro, small and medium-sized businesses in the rural areas of Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside.

The programme – delivered by Advance Northumberland and Northumberland County Council and part funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority – will assist more than 300 businesses on their growth journeys by 2023. More than GBP1 million of support has been awarded to date. And just under GBP1 million is still available for businesses to tap into.

The programme offers a Capital Grant Investment Fund to support investment in projects that enable rural businesses to expand productive capacity and / or diversify into new markets or products, which will lead to new job creation. In addition, its Business Advice and Support Services can help companies with the development of growth plans and guide them towards appropriate sources of finance. There’s a single point of contact, with access to 1-2-1 specialist advice via Technical Advisors that specialise in business planning, financial planning and management, financial projections, supply chain, resilience planning, legal advice and taxation.

Powering expansion, workforce development and diversification

In Silvermoor’s case, the GBP57,974 worthof grant assistance received under the North of Tyne Rural Business Growth Service Programme has helped the company tackle new markets.

Visit the company’s site and you’ll find new bailers, a new briquette machine and a new forklift truck, which are powering its progression. The investment also provided a catalyst for workforce development, with the appointment of several new machine operators.

For Glendale Engineering Milfield Ltd – a Wooler-based company specialising in large-scale commercial and agricultural steel frame construction – the programme has helped to fund plant machinery, create new jobs and enable diversification. The firm was awarded GBP42,640 through the programme, which supported the purchase of a 14-tonne excavator with steel wrist tilt rotator: this has enabled it to engage and complete civil engineering works along with the manufacture and erection of steel frames on large scale construction projects. The result?

Glendale Engineering can take on larger scale projects and it has been able to start a new arm of the business specialising in ground works: four new staff members were taken on to support this. The programme has also made a big impact on Pilgrims Gelato, which sells vegan gelato from its shop on Holy Island.

Funding of GBP23,053 has supported the creation of a purpose-built production facility in Denwick, and helped Pilgrims Gelato extend its reach to tourism hotspots across the North East. “The future looks really exciting,” says owner Charlotte Thompson. And for Mousen Ltd – named after its location near Bamburgh – grant funding of GBP150,000 supported investment into a factory to produce environmentally-friendly heat briquettes and compost briquettes. These are just some of the companies who have benefited from the Rural Business Growth Service.

North of Tyne Cabinet Member for Culture, Creative, and Rural Cllr Glen Sanderson, who is Leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “It’s wonderful to see great Northumberland companies like Pilgrims, Glendale and Silvermoor flourish as a result of support from the North of Tyne Rural Business Growth Service Programme and North of Tyne funding. “Support for business is key to the North of Tyne devolution deal. We’re committed to seeking ways to unlock potential, create conditions for businesses to flourish, nurture investment, and support long term opportunities for growth.”

Putting rural communities at the heart of business growth

A new business has been launched to provide families living off-grid with specialist maintenance and servicing of home generators across rural Northumberland.

Launched in late 2021, Rural Generator Services, owned by Steve Batey, specialises in the maintenance and servicing of home generators, providing a lifeline to the 350 off-grid households across the county. Reliant on the use of generators to provide their electricity, these households have, until now, had to call on support from outside the region when their systems have broken down or needed maintaining. Steve worked alongside the Rural Design Centre Innovation Project – delivered by a partnership between Advance Northumberland, Innovation SuperNetwork and Northumbria University – as part of the ‘Powerless People’ campaign, which has involved working alongside Community Action Northumberland to help find short- and medium-term solutions to the issues faced by the off-grid community in rural Northumberland.

Steve Batey said: “The support I received inspired me, encouraging me to ‘take up the spanners’ again, and that’s how I came about setting the business up. “People are struggling to get someone out to look at, and look after, generators in the rural area, so I thought, ‘well, I can help’.”

Interested in support for your business? Don’t waste any time… The Rural Business Growth Service can help growth plans and guide businesses towards appropriate sources of finance and enable expansion and diversify for the future.

We’d encourage any Northumberland businesses who want to take up this support to contact the Rural Business Growth Team as soon as possible.

A Rural Enterprise Specialist will diagnose, develop and manage an individual tailored programme of support for your business.

You can reach the team on 01670 528 400, email: or visit

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