Villages land lottery funding

THREE rural north Northumberland communities will benefit from more than £65,000 following the latest round of lottery funding.

At the start of the month, funding from the Village SOS programme of the Big Lottery Fund was announced for Belford Community Group, Milfield Heavy Horse Association and the Fontburn Internet Project.

Belford Community Group was awarded £25,000 to open a permanent Hidden Belford exhibition and to build up the guided tours of the village.

This is on top of a £5,000 grant from the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for bringing an old building back into use.

The exhibition, using part of the unused building in the centre of the village, will be a centre for historical documents, photos and data as well as having a genealogy section for people to study family history.

There are also plans to expand on the village trails, potentially to take in the surrounding farmland.

Phil Nicholson, chairman of Belford Community Group, said: “It will be for visitors to the area, local schools and any groups interested in learning more about Belford, building on the work done by the local history society in the last few years.

“It’s about trying to get a reason for people to stop in Belford.

“We are absolutely elated and as soon as funding is released we can start the improvements on the rooms we are going to use.”

Milfield Heavy Horse Association has been offered £29,700 to hold an annual festival centred on different breeds of working horse, which will include demonstrations, educational displays, and stalls for local farmers and businesses.

The Association’s company secretary Vivienne Cockburn said: “Our overall reaction is we are absolutely astounded, really, really pleased.

“This project is an element of a bigger project where we are looking to have a dedicated centre for heavy horses and the idea for that is to preserve the heritage and allow people to generally have a hands-on experience with them.

“This project has really sprung from that because the horses originally lived in the village.”

Fontburn Internet Project will use funding of £12,038 to develop their community broadband in this isolated rural area by upgrading their relay system, which comes out of the Morpeth area.

The improvements will allow loan and install reception equipment for up to 10 new business and household members, meaning that they will only have to pay the monthly subscription in order to join the project.

One of the project’s trustees, Louise Kirkwood, said: “We are really excited and surprised because we are such a small project.

“Internet access has been an absolute lifesaver out here to some of the businesses and farms.”

The project will also a public event in the summer to publicise the project and offer people some hands-on experience.