The Wellbeing Farm
Once crumbling and neglected, an old farm on a hillside near Bolton had been transformed into an award-winning venue with help from the Access to Finance team.
Celia Gaze had a vision to turn the farm into a multi-strand business that included an events venue, cookery school, wellbeing centre and café. Wheatsheaf Hill Farm, as it used to be known, had been in her partner’s family for nearly 150 years but had fallen into disrepair. But before she could start to renovate the building, she needed start-up capital.
“My application for a loan had been rejected by several banks,” she explains, “and it was obvious that I needed some professional support putting together a new application, with all the supporting documents.”
She contacted the Business Growth Hub and was introduced to Access to Finance advisor Prakash Patel, who began working with Celia to rewrite her business plan and financial forecasts and help make sure she was ‘investment ready’. He also liaised with the banks to set up meetings and accompanied Celia to help her with her pitch.
“As a result of Prakash’s intervention, I secured a bank loan from Lloyds at a fantastic interest rate,” says Celia. “Prakash was an absolute star to work with; he made the finance part sound easy and he was incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. Access to Finance was a huge help and a service I would definitely recommend.”
As well as a £180,000 loan from Lloyds, Celia also received a Rural Diversification grant of £120,000 to help renovate the farm.
Renamed The Wellbeing Farm, the site has been transformed into a multiple-award winning green-accredited venue for corporate hospitality, events, meetings and weddings, and has also created nine new jobs.
Celia, who is now managing director of the business, is continuing to develop the brand, which has won a variety of awards including a Countryside Alliance North West Start up Award.
Prakash adds: “I saw the potential that Celia had to transform the farm straight away. Her passion and enthusiasm for the project was evident from the beginning and once I understood her vision I was able to help her to build a solid proposal to take to funders.
“Using my contacts I was able to put her in touch with Lloyds and recommended she apply to the Rural Diversification fund. It’s fantastic to see Wellbeing Farm develop into such a successful business, with such an innovative and well-rounded offer for their customers.”