A couple of animal loving young entrepreneurs, Geraint Robson and Caitlyn Corless have just opened the gates to a new educational farm park near Bridgend.
Both from Cardiff, they founded Ddraig Valley Farm Park in Pencoed, an animal centre designed to allow the public to get close to and learn more about both traditional and exotic species.
Following the completion of their studies in Environmental Management and Animal Studies at Bridgend College’s Pencoed Campus, the pair utilised their entrepreneurial talents to set up Ddraig Valley Farm on the grounds of the college campus, their former stomping ground.
Ddraig Valley Farm is home to traditional farm animals such as goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, donkeys and geese, as well as more unusual species like tortoises, iguanas, terrapins, quails and alpacas. The venue also houses an aviary, which is home to species including diamond doves, java sparrows and canaries, as well as accommodating smaller animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs.
During their business journey, Caitlyn and Geraint received guidance and support from Big Ideas Wales, which forms part of the Welsh Government’s Business Wales Service, and is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
Their links with the support service even resulted in award success for the couple, with their venture winning “Overall Best Business” at Big Ideas Celebrated – a showcase event for Big Ideas Wales which recently took place at Cardiff City Stadium honouring achievements in youth entrepreneurship.
Geraint and Caitlyn are keen to make education a key element of every visit to the farm.
“We wanted to set up Ddraig Valley Farm Park because we were passionate about creating somewhere for families in south Wales and beyond to experience animals up close in an environment that is safe, friendly and knowledgeable.”
While Caitlyn tends to the farming side of the business, putting her diploma in Animal Studies to good use, Geraint, who studied Environmental Management, runs tours of the farm park, showcasing to visitors everything that Ddraig Valley has to offer.
Geraint and Caitlyn attribute much of their success to the advice and support they have received along the way, both from Big Ideas Wales but also the support provided by Bridgend College’s Enterprise Team, specifically from Enterprise Champion, Ruth Rowe, who has worked with the couple in achieving their ambition.
“We could not have got to this point without the amount of guidance we have had over the last four years. At our first Big Ideas Wales Bootcamp event in 2014, we received intensive support over the course of a weekend and were able to meet likeminded young entrepreneurs. From there, we’ve been lucky enough to have the constant backing and encouragement of individuals like Ruth, who has been with us every step of the way since.”
Geraint and Caitlyn impressed Ruth at the Carnegie Trust Test Town event in Bridgend, where young entrepreneurs got to put their trading skills to the test. After winning the Test Town competition, Geraint and Caitlyn signed the lease on the farm land owned by Bridgend College and saw their dreams of running a farm park turned into a reality.
Ruth Rowe, Bridgend College’s Enterprise Champion said:
“Caitlyn and Geraint have seized every opportunity available to them and their hard work has really paid off now they’ve opened the gates of Ddraig Valley Farm to the public. They’ve shown great determination and tenacity throughout and I hope their business continues to grow in the future.”
And despite only opening the gates to the farm park in the past month, the pair already have expansion plans in their sights and are hoping to increase not only the range of animals they home, but also the size of the farm site too.
Further information: www.ddraigvalley.co.uk
Welsh Government’s Big Ideas Wales programme encourages young people aged between 5 and 25 to develop entrepreneurial skills and start a business. Part of the Business Wales Service, it is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. For more information, visit www.BigIdeasWales.com