A NEW member of staff will help a group which supports farmers and the rural community draw up a plan for the future.

Grace Crawford has joined Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services (UTASS) as its strategic development officer, who will be responsible over the next 16 months for overseeing development of its business plan and helping to create a strategic plan that will support its vision to continue to deliver community-led services and support in the future.

Grace said: “UTASS has been in existence now for over 20 years and throughout that time has played a vital role in supporting farmers and the rural communities of upper Teesdale and the wider Durham Dales, through training, agricultural support, youth services, advice and guidance, and crisis support.

“Within this time the financial climate has changed significantly and in order to survive into the future charities, such as us, are having to look carefully at service delivery models to ensure we can adapt and grow.

“I am looking forward to playing my own part within the fantastic team here, to support UTASS in forward planning, to ensure that we are able to provide a vibrant, community-led service to the Durham Dales and beyond for many years to come, helping our communities to be healthy, safe, resilient and self-sustaining.”

Grace comes from a voluntary sector background, having worked within a community regeneration charity in Durham for the past 14 years. Living in Middleton-in-Teesdale and having grown up on a local hill farm, Grace brings local knowledge and understanding, as well as a broad range of skills and experiences to support the UTASS team.

To find out more or to discuss how you could get involved with UTASS into the future email grace@utass.org or phone her on 01833 641010.

n UTASS has received £6,840 from the Wellesley Trust Fund at The Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland for young people’s driver training, providing for car and trailer lessons, car driving lessons, quad bike, pre-test tractor training or Lantra 13-15 tractor driving.

Applications should be received by Friday, March 20, and applicants should be prepared to complete their training within six months.

Application forms will be available from the UTASS Office or can be downloaded from the Training Opportunities page of its website at www.utass.org For more information, contact Julia Stephenson on 01833 641010 or julia@utass.org