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Ale’s well that ends well

European grant scheme will pump millions into food and drink businesses

Turning one’s passion into a career isn’t the easiest of paths to follow but it’s something that one Northamptonshire farmer’s son has achieved smoothly, thanks to a FEAST of help, writes Anna Murby.

You see beer-loving Ed Matts, who had been dabbling in home brewing for ten years after being given a kit for Christmas while at university, including producing a few barrels for his cousin’s wedding, finally established Creaton Grange Ales on the family farm at Creaton near Daventry two years ago and says he wouldn’t be where he is today without the support of FEAST (Food Enterprise Advisory Support Team).

The project, which for the last two years has distributed thousands of pounds in grants to eligible food and drink manufacturers, has also been providing free access to mentoring, sector events and technical expertise and it is that last element which Ed has found invaluable: “I’d like to think I now know what great beer tastes like, but being a competent brewer doesn’t mean you know about the relevant legislation nor indeed how to ensure you’re doing everything correctly and efficiently” explained Ed.

“My FEAST adviser not only made getting to grips with it all so simple, but also massively  cut the amount of time I would have spent trying to make my business supermarket-ready and was always on the end of the ‘phone or email whenever I needed him.

“I honestly believe that that guidance in getting to where I am now would have cost me many hundreds of pounds in consultancy fees and without the confidence I’ve also gained, I’m sure I might have given up long before now” he enthused.

Following the success of FEAST over the last two years, a new project, FEAST2, has been awarded to the Food & Drink Forum and is worth £3,934,176 in total. It will receive a further £1,967,089 in funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

It is being delivered by The Mallows Company, based at Bozeat near Wellingborough, and its director, Rachel Mallows MBE, says she’s thrilled that technical support is again part of the scheme’s offering: “Although many of those who sign up for the project do so to apply for grants, it’s clear to see from Ed’s really positive experience that businesses need different types of help – and we’re able to supply that” said Rachel.

“So while I know he’s already signed up for the new project, with plans to invest in a new fermentation tank and with a new on-trend session beer in the pipeline, I’d urge producers to get in touch to see what kind of assistance we can give them” she added.

For more details of FEAST2, including registering your business for the free support on offer, please contact Amanda Askew at The Mallows Company on 01933 664437 or email amanda@themallowscompany.comMeanwhile for more information on Creaton Grange Ales, please visit www.creatongrangeales.co.uk or call Ed on 07943 595829.

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