Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Leitrim business represented at EU CAP Network Conference

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Leitrim woman Helena Golden travelled to Krakow, Poland, last week to participate in a networking conference on the ‘Women Led Innovations in Rural and Agricultural Areas’ theme. 

Helena, based in Leitrim Village, set up her heritage craft business “Helena Golden Willow Woman” in 2020.  

Coming from a farming background in Manorhamilton and a career in Community and Rural Development, Helena spotted the potential for her interest in Willow Basket Making to be developed into a sustainable, rural enterprise. 

Helena was selected as one of 86 participants from 24 EU Member States to participate in the networking conference in Poland, which was focused on Female Entrepreneurship in rural settings throughout Europe and how government policy can best support and develop such initiatives.  

Attendees included Researchers, Policy Makers and Advisors, Entrepreneurs and Community Leaders.

Helena was honoured to be chosen as one of 7 Inspiring Women to address the delegates and showcase her Leitrim business at an International forum. She has always been a keen advocate for what Leitrim has to offer. 

“I have always taken pride in the fact that I have put my education to use for the development and betterment of Leitrim, having worked to support small businesses, community and rural development initiatives throughout Leitrim for many years. I am just delighted to represent Leitrim on an European stage and for the purposes of showcasing my own business,” she said.

Helena has also been selected as one of 30 Women Led Businesses in Ireland to participate in research as part of the FLIARA Project – Female Led Innovations in Agriculture and Rural Areas.  

FLIARA aims to improve understanding and recognition of women’s roles in a more sustainable rural future. A publication based on the 30 Irish Female Led businesses will be launched in Galway in July 2024. 

Helena currently delivers Basket Making classes throughout Ireland, with a focus on making this tactile heritage craft accessible and available to all ages and abilities. The rhythmic nature of weaving with willow offers a connection with our ancestors and is regularly described as active mindfulness.  

She teaches the craft in schools and colleges, with community and private groups, and she has recently launched an Online School of Natural Craft, ensuring that this Leitrim business now has a worldwide customer base. 

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