Hay & Kilner Law Firm has signed up as the first major sponsor of a new rural business support community.

The North East-based practice is now part of Rural Business Network, a growing community of farmers and rural business owners across the UK which was founded earlier this year by County Durham-based farmer Jo Martin.

Rural Business Network includes a wide range of different types of rural business, including farmers who are considering diversifying as well as food & drink, tourism and creative businesses, and aims to provide each of them with practical support, advice and inspiration as they evolve and grow.

Hay & Kilner will be sponsoring Rural Business Network’s first celebration dinner, which will take place next year, and will also be offering additional services that are tailored to its members’ needs.

These will include online legal clinics, regular legal updates on key rural issues and a dedicated legal hotline on which members can access a free initial consultation on any queries they have.

A series of member online events is also being planned, with the first one being on issues surrounding succession planning, which will take place on Thursday 22 October.

Jo Martin says: “The aim of Rural Business Network is to provide online knowledge events to share best practice and develop new opportunities for rural businesses to thrive, and I’m excited by the progress that’s been made in just a few short months.

“The reception I’ve had from the rural business community has been extremely enthusiastic, with members joining from right across the country, and I’ve got a lot of plans in place to enhance and expand what Rural Business Network can offer.

“Hay & Kilner have been really keen to get involved and it’s great to have such a well-established and respected law firm as a sponsor and member.”

Alison Hall, partner and head of the specialist agricultural & rural team at Hay & Kilner, adds: “We already work with a wide range of rural and agricultural businesses both across and outside the North East, and there’s a clear synergy between our expertise and the needs of the Rural Business Network’s members.

“Rural and agricultural businesses can face particularly complex situations when it comes to things like succession planning, investment and diversification, and the services we’re developing for Rural Business Network members will help them identify the best ways to address them.

“Jo has taken a very far-sighted look at the needs of rural and agricultural business communities and have developed something that’s going to make a big positive impact on how they can manage their operational needs.”