THE Prince of Wales has heard how a scheme he launched to help deprived and isolated rural areas became a lifeline to local people.

Just hours before he was due to undergo surgery for a hernia, Prince Charles hosted a seminar at his Gloucestershire estate, Highgrove, which highlighted the success of the Dales Action for Local Enterprise.

Since its launch by the Prince in Hawes in 1999, the Dale project has tackled under-employment and unemployment for 18 to 30-year-olds in the Yorkshire Dales.

The scheme realises that many young people in remote rural areas are disadvantaged by the lack of job and business opportunities. Through financial, IT and training support, Dale has already helped more than 60 businesses set up.

The Prince said: "Dale has used my Prince's Trust to help young adults to overcome the difficulties of being in business in remote locations."

The project has successfully created 80 new jobs in the Yorkshire Dales and generated hope among young people for their future.

At the seminar, 31-year-old Rebecca Morgan, of Grinton, Swaledale, spoke of her success having set up Principal Teachers at her home - a business that provides supply teachers to local schools.

The mother of five young children said the financial help and support from the Prince's Trust was invaluable and she now had an annual turnover of £85,000.

"I had a lack of support from city banks, who didn't understand the difficulties rural businesses faced trying to set themselves up," she said.

Church faces challenges and choices

A CHURCH official has spoken of the challenges and choices facing the Ripon Diocese.

Philip Arundel, Ripon diocesan secretary, gave a talk followed by a discussion at the Church of St Cuthbert and St Mary, Barton.

In his presentation, he spoke about the diversity within the Ripon diocese, taking in parishes from inner city Leeds to those in the Yorkshire Dales.

Financial constraints were already leading to cut-backs, there was no longer funding for a chaplain at Leeds Metropolitan University. And a post was being left vacant in the diocesan office, which had seven officers for the whole diocese.

In this climate, the Anglican Church was faced with the challenge of developing new forms of ministry, with non-stipendiary clergy playing a greater role in the life of the Church.

Following his discussion, there was a wide range of questions in which it emerged that there was a need to develop communication between the diocese and its varied parishes and that the whole Church needed to take a more pro-active role in the life of the communities it served.

On a parallel theme, All Saints' Church, Manfield, was actively planning a week to promote stewardship and financial support for the Church. A working party was being advised by Paul Winstanley, diocesan stewardship secretary.