PRINCE Charles has voiced his concern for rural communities, highlighting the importance of the British countryside.
The Prince of Wales was the guest-editor of a special edition of the BBC's flagship Countryfile programme on Sunday (10 March).
BBC One's weekly rural affairs flagship reports on the people, places and stories making news in the British countryside.
The programme followed the Prince as he visits his rural initiatives which are aimed at improving the lives of people working in the countryside.
They included Paul and Jennifer Johnson and their children, who raise sheep on the fells of Upper Teesdale in County Durham – one of the harshest landscapes in the country.
Prince Charles also discussed the personal importance he attaches to the countryside and explains the reasons behind his choices for the 25th anniversary programme.
Since moving to its prime-time slot on a Sunday night, Countryfile has become one of the BBC's most successful television programmes, attracting more than 7m viewers a week.
Countryfile executive editor Bill Lyons said: "Rural business contributes massively to the UK economy, but changing times throw up challenging questions.
The programme also highlighted the contribution to rural communities made by the Prince's Countryside Fund.
The fund gives grants to projects that help support the people who care for the countryside.
It is supported by a collaboration of businesses working together to secure a sustainable future for British agriculture and the wider rural economy.
Grants of up to £50,000 are provided to projects tackling one of five key issues.
They aim to improve rural service provision, support rural enterprise, support farming businesses, and provide training opportunities for young people and educating people about the countryside.
So far, the fund has donated £1.7 million in grants, supported 45 projects across the UK and helping over 20,000 people in the process.
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