Traigh Mhòr Pony Trekking has secured £30,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) for the project that will see new jobs created for young people.
The business has been offering pony trekking trips and lessons on nearby land including Traigh Mhòr – the beach in Tolsta, north Lewis, since 2018.
After outgrowing the previous site in Tolsta, owners Leigh and Gavin Minion along with their daughters Kirsty and Sarah, purchased a croft as its new base in the same village and built an all-weather arena with a reception area, tack room and an improved car parking area. The new facility ensures that more choice is offered for all-ages and abilities by riding directly out from the new centre.
The site has been carefully planned out with shelterbelts of native and non-native trees planted and the site is green and sustainable as it is completely off-grid.
Over the last two years, the company experienced an increase in demand from local people and visitors for the experiences it offers and it is expected to continue to grow when the tourism season restarts.
The investment is expected to boost the company’s turnover within three years, create four new full-time, several part-time, Saturday and holiday posts. One of the company’s key objectives of its diversification plan is to provide continued training and development opportunities for young people.
Donald Murray from HIE’s Outer Hebrides area team, said: “This project will enhance the appeal of north Lewis’s as a tourism destination. It creates a valuable local venue for leisure and wellbeing and the year-round operations will strengthen job security for young employees.
“The environmental benefits of the project are important as we move towards an economy based on net zero emissions. We are very pleased to confirm our support and look forward to working with Traigh Mhòr Pony Trekking as they progress their exciting plans.”
Leigh said: “We are very thankful to HIE for the support and funding we have received during our premises move. It has been instrumental in securing and increasing our youth employment opportunities.
“This project for me was never about profit. It is about bringing economic and social opportunities to our area and providing jobs, careers and hope for our local young people. It is about training and education and it is about health and wellbeing. This has always been the aim of what we do at Traigh Mhòr Pony Trekking and will continue to be so in the future.”
The new premises opened on May 6th and is taking bookings for lessons, treks and beach rides.