VILLAGES in Teesdale are being offered Countryside Agency grants of up to £25,000 for community projects.

The Vital Villages programme is urging rural communities to apply for the grants and encouraging people of all ages to get involved.

Advisers from the Countryside Agency and the County Durham Rural Community Council will be at the Bowes Museum, in Barnard Castle, on Friday, to explain ways in which the Vital Villages programme can help services and projects in rural communities.

Community groups in Teesdale have already taken advantage of the programme.

The Teesdale Day Clubs have used more than £7,000 of funding to add Woodland, seven miles from Barnard Castle, to the eight communities it provides with a regular luncheon club.

Bowes Out of School Club has received £24,000 to provide childcare for working parents and children, and parents and carers can borrow from the Bowes School Toy and Book Resource Base thanks to a £12,300 grant.

A £4,000 parish transport grant means plans are being made to extend the existing 88a service twice a week to include evening calls at Cockfield, Evenwood, Woodland and Butterknowle.

Lesley Millgate, of the Countryside Agency, said: "We believe local people know best what will make a difference in their own community, and we can move quickly to give up to £25,000 for projects that will bring positive changes.

"We can help local people with initiatives such as setting up an out-of-school group, launching community transport schemes or a wide range of much-needed services. Vital Villages is particularly keen to support Teesdale communities that are far away from services town-dwellers take for granted."

The Vital Villages team will be at the Bowes Museum from 10.30am to 3.30pm on Friday. For further details contact Michael Patterson on 0191-269 1600.