Our congratulations to the newly-announced Rural Oscars Champions for the South East in the 2016 Countryside Alliance Awards (aka the Rural Oscars) as our roll-out of regional champions continues. Businesses from East Sussex, Kent, the Isle of Wight and  have taken top honours and will now head to Parliament in March for the British finals and the chance of a British title.

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

 

South East Champion in the Local food/ drink category

Briddlesford Lodge Farm, Isle of Wight 

Judge Sarah Lee said: “This is an inspiring family dairy farm which has been on the same site since 1923. The Griffin family have diversified in order to continue to milk their prize herd of Guernseys so now also have a farm shop, Bluebells Café and educational heritage barn, all to enable easy access to their top class milk, cream, raw milk and halloumi style cheese, which is all produced on site. Plans are underway to increase production this year, especially impressive since farmer Paul has quit his Arla contract and plans to do it all himself. A new purpose built unit on the farm will include a cheese room where Paul’s sister, Izzy, will develop her range of cheeses, and she already has plenty of ideas in that direction. The farm shop does a roaring trade in veal, which award winning butcher Callum produces in-house alongside pies and sausages. Veal as a by-product of the dairy industry has in the past caused controversy, but the Griffin family feels strongly that with education and explanation, this delicious meat can be enjoyed more freely. Education is the backbone of this impressive farm, both from Callum in the butchery and Paul, Izzy and Louise on the farm, but also by mum, Judy, who runs the heritage centre helping youngsters and their parents understand the history, importance and heritage of dairy farming (and also making the scones and jam for the café). With Welly Wednesday and Open Farm Sunday being just part of the educational set-up at Briddlesford, we wish every school had a Briddlesford nearby.”

Highly Commended: Laceys Family Farm, Lane End, Buckinghamshire

 

South East Champion in the Village shop / Post Office category

Ripe Village Stores, Ripe, East Sussex

Judge James Somerville-Meikle comments: Ripe Stores impressed from the moment I walked in. I was amazed by how much was going on and I really admired the determination of Kath and Alison to find new ways of serving their local community. Whether this was setting up a book group, sending out a weekly newsletter to people in the village, or opening a pop-up pub when the local pub closed down. All of this takes time and dedication which is clearly appreciated by people in the village and beyond as the Stores have become the centre of the local community. A very worthy winner.”

Highly Commended: Compton Village Shop, Compton, Berkshire

Highly Commended: Clatfords Village Store, Goodworth Clatford, Hampshire

Highly Commended: Bidborough Stores, Bidborough, Kent

Highly Commended: Dunsfold Village Shop, Dunsfold, Surrey

 

South East Champion in the Tourism Enterprise category

The Llama Park, Forest Row, East Sussex

Judge Jill Grieve commented: “The Llama Park has so many different parts to its business that it’s almost unfair that the llamas get top billing, excellent as they are. Bobby, Susan, Lily and the team are running a top notch business which encompasses a retail section with clothing and gifts, a recently refurbished restaurant selling much of the produce raised on the estate (don’t tell the pigs) and an event space which looks out on to the park where pygmy goats, Shetland ponies and reindeer are just some of the educational draws alongside the llamas and alpacas. The park draws tourists from near and far, encompassing as it does a party/ conference/ wedding space, an educational resource, a place to shop and also a restaurant where local produce takes prominence, all on the edge of the beautiful Ashdown Forest. Congratulations to Bobby and the team for in a short space of time creating a sparky, energetic and fun business which fully deserves to be recognised.”

Highly Commended: Wallops Wood, Droxford, Hampshire

Highly Commended: The Hampton Estate, Seale, Farnham, Surrey

 

South East Champion in the Farm Enterprise category

Douglas Partners, Uckfield, East Sussex 

Judge Jill Grieve commented: “Here is a shop that is borne out of energy, passion and a will to make a success of a tenanted farm in East Sussex. Chrissy has a farm shop (with asparagus a speciality) but she also does livery for local horse owners, welcomes the local foxhounds and beagles over the farm, does puppy walking for both local packs and has also installed an all-weather riding school as well as a cross country course on the farm. Chrissy is adept at doing many things at once, and she is at heart a farmer and countrywoman – the awards exist to reward the efforts of people like Chrissy who go above and beyond every day and never seek any praise or thanks. We are delighted to honour her with a Rural Oscar.”

Highly Commended: Cholsey Farm Riding, Cholsey Grange, Ibstone, Buckinghamshire

Highly Commended: Claydon Christmas Tree Farm, West Street, Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire

Highly Commended: Ford Farm Stables, Burley Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire

 

South East Champion in the Butcher category   

Joint Champion: Saddleback Farm Shop, Brightwalton, West Berkshire

Judge Sarah Lee commented: “I would recommend anyone visit Saddleback for any number of reasons, but we are honouring them for the butchery side of the business which is top notch. The family has been farming at Brightwalton for a number of years so it has been a real leap of faith to get the farm shop and butchery off the ground and to really drive it forward, attracting devoted customers from miles around. Clare, who runs the business and is the third generation of the Whidmore family to farm this stunning corner of West Berkshire. She is tenacious and has her eye firmly on top produce, animal welfare and giving customers what they want either over the counter or via a meat box scheme. Clare herself is not a butcher but has fantastic butchers on staff, including a butcher apprentice, who are able to banter with the customers and cut to their specifications. We were also impressed to see a shoot lunch coming in while we were judging, proving what a hub Saddleback is and how immersed in its community and rural life more broadly.”

 

Joint Champion: Park Farm/ Park Farm Butchers, Hawkhurst, Kent

Judge James Somerville-Meikle commented:Park Farm has championed local produce since before it was popular to do so and is well placed, having a farm and a shop. It goes the extra mile to ensure that customers get the best possible level of quality and service. Andy’s dedication to local produce and people was really impressive. As we walked around the chiller he knew exactly where all the meat had from, if it had not come from his own farm, and knew all of the farmers he sourced from personally. The business has put people through apprenticeships, provided meat to the local Cranbrook Rugby Club, and helped young farmers starting out. The model of a local butcher shop.”

 

Notes: 

  • Our regions are: South West, South East, East, Midlands, North, Wales.
  • 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