LEADER Supporting Rural Development

Experienced tourism providers Margaret and Tom McCormack had been looking at adding value to their Guesthouse which is located on the outskirts of Mullingar and approached LEADER for assistance. The idea was to include a hot tub style installation called a "Swimspa" which has a full swimming facility where currents are generated in the water to simulate swimming.

The couple set up the B&B over 25 years ago and following an extensive renovation in 2003 the premises became a 3 star Guest house with 10 en suite rooms. The McCormack's provide a range of leisure facilities for guests including a tennis court, a sauna and hot tub for relaxation and access to the farm for walking. "In looking at how we were going to add value to our existing operations our first port of call was to LEADER to discuss the idea of including the Swimspa" outlined Margaret. "The support we received from start to finish was great and we are delighted now to be able to extend our season and attract longer-staying guests". We now have visitors coming from across Europe to stay with us, many of whom state that a main attraction for them in choosing our premises is the range of leisure facilities we provide" she continued.

Tom and Margaret also attended an eco-tourism training programme funded by LEADER and are now one of twelve rural tourism businesses in Westmeath with green accreditation. They are also members of the Westmeath Angling network, another

LEADER animation initiative aimed at assisting the tourism angling sector in Westmeath.

In recognising the potential of the horse industry to rural Westmeath, LEADER has provided support to their equine enterprises. One such recipient was Adrian Murray who approached LEADER with his idea to develop an outdoor equestrian area and 2.5 furlong gallop at his farm located in Rathowen. Adrian is a farmer with a strong interest and experience of the equestrian sector having worked with horses for many years. In researching and developing the idea for his business expansion Adrian first contacted WCD and availed of the company's Animation supports which assisted and guided him through the process of applying for grant aid. Adrian was successful in securing grant aid. Adrian was successful in securing grant aid for the development of his equine business and now has 1 full time and 2 part time employees and caters for a broad spectrum of customers in the Equine Sector. "Receiving the finance to expand my operation was great but crucially for me was the support I received in making the application. Without this support from LEADER my project would not have got off the ground".