SUPPORTER: The Prince of Wales, during a visit to Middleton-in-Teesdale in 2012
SUPPORTER: The Prince of Wales, during a visit to Middleton-in-Teesdale in 2012

PRINCE Charles is to honour an upper dale charity for 25 years of service to the rural community.

Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services (Utass), which has strong links to the Prince of Wales, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

Utass began informally in 1993 after a series of suicides in the Durham Dales, across a six month period, prompted local people to look at how they could support those in sparsely populated communities.

Co-project manager for Utass Diane Spark said: “We are utterly delighted that HRH The Prince of Wales will be acknowledging 25 years of the work of UTASS.

“He has done an enormous amount to support the work of Utass over the years and we are very much looking forward to sharing such a significant milestone with him.”

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About 30 people associated with Utass, including farmers, retired farmers who attend the monthly lunches, trustees, volunteers, funders and staff, will be travelling to Newcastle today, September 12, to meet the Prince. During the event Prince Charles will cut a cake to mark the anniversary.

Utass, which works to prevent problems and ensures proper access to the right services and helps with complex farming paperwork, has been supported by the Prince’s Countryside Fund since 2010.

The grants have helped train farmers in dealing with paperwork and legislation, provided training opportunities for young people, and assisted in offering business advice.

Other activities and support offered by Utass include weekly youth group sessions, the provision of Post Office facilities from their office premises, the development of a heating oil bulk buying group and providing emergency food bank facilities. For those with urgent needs, support is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.