Mid and East Antrim Local Action Group

Mid and East Antrim LAG Success Stories

Photograph of Gracehill, Ballymena

"The Rural Development funding received for our project has not only enhanced both the safety and access to the area, but allowed for the overall enjoyment of the Village Square for people and wildlife alike."

David Johnston
Gracehill Old School Trust

We are here to help you implement your project successfully. To that aim, we have laid out some of the information and guidance we provide below, but remember you can always contact us if you have any specific queries!

  • Procurement - We can guide you on how to purchase your goods and services in line with programme rules.
  • Claims - All grant-aid is paid through retrospective claims. You must complete and pay for your project first, then make a ‘Claim’ for reimbursement. We can lay out the key requirements for a successful claim.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation - Monitoring and evaluation is a key part of the grants process, we can provide guidance that clearly lays out these requirements.
  • Publicity - Any project that receives funding through the programme is obliged to adhere to some publicity rules; we can provide you with more guidance on these matters.

What better way to understand what we do than to read about our funding in action!

Please read on and discover our inspiring feature stories from our last round of Rural Development Programme Funding. You can read all about the current round of funding in our Programme Measures section. And, don’t forget to complete our Expression of Interest Form for feedback on your project idea!


Maurice McIlroy

Firgrove Pet Resort
Grant Awarded £15,700
Funding supports growing family business!

Based in Larne, the McIlroy family were successful in their grant application for funding to support the diversification of their family farm.

Maurice McIlroy decided to branch out into a cat and dog boarding kennels (Firgrove Pet Resort) and livery business which housed up to 24 horses.

However, there was a gap within the business’ offering.

During the winter months, poor weather meant outdoor access for exercising was limited, so Maurice decided to apply to the Programme to convert a disused silo to build a new indoor enclosure for exercising, which would also facilitate an electronic horse walker. This would mean up to 4 horses could be walked at any one time.

Maurice was successful in his application for funding, and was delighted with the financial support the programme provided.

Maurice commented that:

“Since receiving the funding Firgrove Pet Resort has continued to grow, in terms of both turnover and staff numbers. We operate in a very competitive market, and with that we need to continuously improve the service we offer. Thanks to the funding support received from the Rural Development Programme we were able to make this happen.”


Nigel Logan

Hillstown Farm Shop
Grant Awarded £50,000
A Farm Shop with a difference!

Since its establishment by Nigel Logan in 2007, Hilltown Farm Shop has went from strength to strength.

Nigel was successful in securing funding from the Rural Development Programme to extend the premises to facilitate the establishment of an eatery, which would not only use the produce from the farm shop but would allow for cookery demonstrations and lessons.

Nigel also wanted to offer an innovative ‘Farm to Fork’ concept, whereby customers could come to the farm and view the entire process from viewing the animals in their natural habitat, seeing the butchering process, and then cook and eat the produce in the on-site.

It would seem there is something on offer for everyone!

Nigel commented:

“Thanks to the funding from the Rural Development Programme not only have our sales increased week on week, but there has been a positive knock-on effect on farm shop sales. We have less wastage from the shop as we are able to create a daily menu based on what we have in stock. It’s great! In the past year, we have added 2 full-time and 6 part time staff members, as well as an apprentice butcher to our team. A big thanks goes to RDP for making this all possible!”


Gracehill Old School Trust

Regeneration of Gracehill
Grant Awarded £23,437.50
Revamp for Gracehill!

Founded by the Moravian Church in 1765, Gracehill was Northern Ireland’s first area of conservation.

The local community organisation Gracehill Old School Trust, also known as GHOST, is an active and progressive group with a good track record of delivering community projects.

Historically, at the heart of the village lay the Village Square, complete with pond, trees and pathways. Yet, the pathways had long gone, the pond overgrown and the perimeter was dressed with barbed wire in places. To bring it back to its former glory, the group decided to submit an application for funding to the Rural Development Programme, amongst others.

As a result, new railings were installed, the traditional hedging and pathways reinstated and the perimeter gates restored. The funding went so far as to landscape the pond area, provide additional seating and planters, as well as an architectural obelisk as the centrepiece of the walk to commemorate the events of 1798 in Gracehill.

This highly successful project gives much enjoyment to locals and visitors alike.

David Johnston (Gracehill Old Schoolhouse Trust) commented:

“Thanks to the funding received, not only has the safety and access to the area been enhanced, but there are huge benefits for both people and wildlife alike. Bookings for village tours are already significantly above previous years, and the landscaping work has also boosted the surrounding built heritage in the village. Already 250 years old, we hope the benefits of the restoration of the Village Square will be enjoyed for many more years to come”.