Grace’s firm is top of the range

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Budding businesswoman and animal lover Grace Cooper is a vital part of her family’s Claughton-based free range farm firm – at the age of just 14.

Grace had lived in various parts of the rural area – including Preesall and Great Eccleston – before the family moved to Brow Top Farm, Claughton, a few years ago.

From the busy smallholding, which has been named Grace’s Free Range Company, Grace and her family market a range of free range products, which have a rapidly growing clientele.

The Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School pupil is keen to tell all about her love of nature, animals and wildlife.

She explained: “I have grown up around animals, starting with my love of horses, which expanded to other animals when we moved to Brow Top.

“I started the company, though I am too young to be a director, by selling the free range eggs from our six hens.”

Mum Lorraine (a magistrate) and dad Mark (a chartered accountant) are actively involved in the business, with dad in charge of maintenance and accounting.

Explaining her enterprising spirit, Grace said: “I spend at least an hour a day – every day – and more on the weekends or when I have pigs going in or chicks being born.

“The smallholding has several pigs and sheep, as well as ducks and hens for eggs.”

The butchering is carried out by Tim Hamlet of Garstang and Taylor’s Abattoir, Bamber Bridge.

Grace does her own marketing among friends and teachers at school, and in the Claughton and greater Garstang area.

She said: “I started delivering leaflets on my bike around the Claughton Hall estate to sell my surplus eggs.

“This developed from selling to friends, family, and teachers to supplying customers as far as Warrington, Newcastle and Manchester.”

Since the business started four years ago, Brow Top is a regular port of call for people seeking top quality meat and eggs.

Grace said: “The business has expanded by producing a very high standard of rare breed, free range pork, sausages and eggs and I am struggling to

produce enough.”

She is full of enthusiasm for the business, adding: “I enjoy communicating with my customers and love farm life.”

She currently has seven rare breed pigs – Gloucester Old Spot and Berkshires – and 11 Muscovy ducks.

Of all the animals she comes into contact with, her particular love is horses.

Grace said: “My mum had one and it just went from there. My horse is a 13.2hh Piebald cob called World Horse Welfare Starsky.

“He was an adoption pony from WHW Penny Farm, Blackpool. His mother was mistreated and was part of a large welfare case. When the horses were taken to Penny Farm she survived and after a difficult start to his life Starsky did too.”

Grace is a member of several equine clubs – Myerscough, Thornton Cleveleys, Fylde Young Riders’ Club, Chipping Pony Club – and while one eye remains on a business career, another is as a jockey.

She said: “I hope to do well with my GCSEs and A-levels and continue on to university or go to the NRC – Northern Racing College – and go into a career in the racing industry.”

At Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School she is a keen member of the RAF Combined Cadet Force.

Asked how she manages to juggle all her interests she replied: “I don’t know!”

She is keen to promote the work of the World Horse Welfare loan scheme to people interested in learning more about horses.

“They are very honest and pick the horse most suited for individual,” she said.