Our Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes:

Yesterday was one of the highlights of the Countryside Alliance’s year, our annual awards ceremony in the House of Lords, but it ended in strange and sombre style as horrible events unfolded outside Parliament.

Shortly after the prizes were handed out Westminster went into lockdown following a terrorist incident. While all our nominees and prizewinners, and Countryside Alliance staff, are safe our thoughts are very much with those affected by the incident. The professionalism and care shown by Parliamentary staff and security services was much appreciated and we all offer our thanks to them for their commitment.

The Environment Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, had earlier set the tone for the awards perfectly in her speech when she said that: “rural businesses are not just the beating heart of our countryside – they are also a vital part of the UK’s economy, generating almost £230 billion every year. I’m really pleased the Countryside Alliance is honouring some of these hard working businesses and ensuring they get the recognition they deserve. Today’s winners and nominees represent the very best of Rural Britain and I’m delighted to celebrate the crucial role our post offices, farm shops and food start-ups play in connecting communities across the country.”

The Awards are now in their twelfth year we received over 7,500 public nominations, which were whittled down to yesterday’s winners. They included a brilliant dairy and farm shop in South Yorkshire, a village shop in Cornwall, a farm attraction and ice cream producer from Derby, a cow hide curer from Brecon, and a butcher from Worcestershire. Together they represent so much that is so special about our countryside and it is a privilege to be able to honour them.

Tim Bonner
Chief Executive
Follow Tim on Twitter @CA_TimB