Enterprising villagers tap into smelter’s legacy

A £50,000 jobs boost has been handed to enterprising villagers.

Former Lynemouth smelter operator Rio Tinto has awarded £53,484 from its Legacy Fund to three ventures in the village, known collectively as JUICE — Joined Up Investment For Community Enterprise.

The cash will help the businesses to grow, buy new equipment and create jobs.

Bill Tarbit, Chairman of the Lynemouth Community Trust, which led the grant application, said: “This is a terrific boost for Lynemouth’s residents and I’m confident the donation from Rio Tinto will unlock great potential in the community. The three businesses that form JUICE are quite distinct from one another, but by bringing them all under one roof we should be able to provide collective strength by maximising their buying power and marketing potential.

“Our business planning confirms local people have the skills, ingenuity and resolve to develop successful careers in Lynemouth, but in difficult economic times, there is added security in sharing resources.

“We hope that with this investment we can establish Lynemouth as a UK centre of excellence for social enterprise.”

Chocolatier Kenspeckle has already sold produce through Selfridges in London. It will buy new equipment to accommodate bigger orders and four new workers will be recruited, while Lynemouth Resource Centre Cafe, which sells home-made jams and preserves, will safeguard two jobs and improve its sustainability. The third venture is Weave incubator hub for small textile designers and manufacturers. It can accommodate 25 businesses and provide training for up to 300 people.

Rio Tinto Regional Economic Development Assistant Joanne Hannay said: “With this donation, we’re trying to help the community become self-sustaining. If these businesses flourish, they’ll create new employment and increase the amount of money flowing into Lynemouth’s economy. Through our Legacy Fund, Rio Tinto has supported a wide range of projects across South East Northumberland, but given the smelter’s 40-year history in Lynemouth, we wanted to make sure our contribution to this community was especially significant.”

The Legacy Fund has so far awarded more than £450,000.