Congratulations to the newly announced Rural Oscars Champions for the South West. The regional winners in the 2016 Countryside Alliance Awards (aka the Rural Oscars) have now been announced, with businesses from Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire now heading to Parliament in Westminster on 22 March for the British finals and a shot at national glory.

The Awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage through our small hard-working businesses. They are now in their twelfth year and have become the definitive rural business award to win. In 2016 we received over 7,500 public nominations which have been whittled down and judged and mean that these Champions are truly the cream of rural business. The Awards are public-nomination led across five categories:

The Champions for the 2016 Rural Oscars in the South West are:


South West Champion in the Local food/ drink category

Darts Farm, Topsham, Exeter, Devon

Judge Richard Walton comments: “This nod in the Rural Oscars is not just for the hard-working and passionate Dart family, but for every one of the producers that they support, promote and offer a market to. What an exceptionally community-minded enterprise of farmers supporting farmers, the ethos and produce at Dart’s Farm are everything the Countryside Alliance Awards want to shout about.”

Highly Commended: Duck’s Deli Farm Shop, Portisham, Dorset


South West Champion in the Village shop / Post Office category

Ponsanooth Village Stores, St Michaels Road, Ponsanooth, Cornwall

Judge Richard Walton said: “Michelle Firminger has transformed the village shop in Ponsanooth, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that she has also transformed the village. Despite overwhelming odds, including a catastrophic flood two years ago, she now has a shop filled with brightness and cheer and a hub for people to meet each other. In addition, she goes beyond the call of duty, putting people in touch with one another and making people’s lives easier for them – especially the elderly.”

Highly Commended: Our Shop, Hinton St George, Somerset


South West Champion in the Tourism Enterprise category

Hillside Brewery, Hollybush Farm, Ross Road, Longhope, Glos

Judge Jill Grieve said: “This father and son team is inspiring. They have taken over a tired brewery and turned it into a tourism destination that trades on great artisan beer, brewery tours and events including festivals, a pop up opera and even a dog show. The brewery is just part of the business though, as they also host Battlesports and Archery Tag on site and their new extension and bar/ patio area is an already-in-demand event space which had hosted a wedding before it was even finished. Peter and Paul Williamson have worked hard and taken some risks to ensure this brewery is a fun and friendly destination that also benefits other local businesses, especially pubs and hotels. The recent building work has all been done with upcycling and energy efficiency in mind and they are even exporting energy back to the National Grid. Their enthusiasm is matched by the stunning setting, making Hillside Brewery a huge tourist draw in this beautiful corner of Gloucestershire.”


South West Champion in the Farm Enterprise category

Brinkworth Dairy, Hill End Farm, Brinkworth, Chippenham, Wiltshire

Judge Liam Stokes said: “Without the efforts of Ceri and Chad the dairy herd at Hill End Farm would probably have been sold off by now. Ceri is a natural spokeswoman for British agriculture, and Wiltshire dairying in particular. She has saved one historic local cheese from extinction and invented two new ones. Her efforts have secured a future for the oldest pedigree Friesian herd in the country, while building a link between Londoners and the Wiltshire Downs and providing her customers with some fantastic, multiple award winning dairy products. When I arrived, Ceri’s father shouted to me from the cow shed “she’s given this farm a future”.

Highly Commended: Cranborne Chase Cider, Minchington, Blandford Forum, Dorset

South West Champion in the Butcher category

Penleigh Butchers, Frome, Somerset

Judge Liam Stokes said:Penleigh Farm and Butchers only opened last October, but has already been taken into the heart of the Frome community. People in Frome care about ethical, local produce, and it was clear there was nowhere else that Owen Singer wanted to open his unique butchers. Not only does Penleigh serve up extensively-reared pork and lamb personally farmed by Owen a mere 7 miles away, but Owen also gives shelf space to other local products that otherwise only come to Frome once a month for the Independent Market. Owen had been selling his meat from the butchery counter inside the local Coop, and it took real courage to take the leap from there to opening Penleigh Farm and Butchers. The gamble has paid off not only for the Singer family but for the whole local community.”



Notes to editors:

  • Our regions are: South West, South East, East, Midlands, North, Wales.
  • Photographs are available.
  • The Parliamentary reception will be held at the House of Lords in London on Wednesday 22nd March 2017
  • Follow the Awards on Twitter @CAAwards and use the hashtag #RuralOscars