The Countryside Alliance Awards (aka the Rural Oscars) have celebrated their tenth anniversary at the Welsh Assembly with a special “Champion of Champions” event on Wednesday 22nd April. Cross party politicians presented four Champion of Champions prizes to former Welsh title holders Hootons Homegrown, Morgans Newsagents, Gower Brewery and Andrew Rees the butcher. The winners were voted for in a public vote with all previous Welsh competing. Over 6,000 votes were polled.
Countryside Alliance Director for Wales Rachel Evans welcomed representatives of over 25 businesses to the event, all winners in previous years, and told them that Secretary of State for Wales, Stephen Crabb, sent a message of congratulations for their achievements and contributions to rural life.
Rachel paid tribute to all the competing businesses for helping to make the Rural Oscars such a success, telling the assembled guests: “Being part of this process has definitely brought us as a team great admiration for what our finalists do, brought us happiness, occasionally tears, but importantly a terrific sense of pride in being able to honour you and your businesses and on behalf of the CA team may I thank you all sincerely for embracing the awards as you have done. We do feel that we have made such great friends through the Rural Oscars. You are all our rural heroes and we applaud you.”
The winners were announced across four categories and the coveted “Champion of Champions” cream and gold plaques were awarded.
The previous champions competing in the Local Food category were:
• House of Rhug, Corwen
• Llwynhelyg Farm Shop, Llandysul
• Swans’ Farm Shop, Mold
• Daphne’s Welsh Lamb, Henllan, Denbigh
• Cwmcerrig Fam Shop and Grill, Cross Hands
• Hawardens Farm Shop, Flintshire
• Hootons Home Grown, Anglesey
• Old Stables Tea Room Hay On Wye
Rachel Evans told the reception: “This traditional farm shop has evolved from a roadside “pick your own” field with a small table as the “shop” to the versatile business it is today. This really is a shining example of a farm shop that really does have “local food” so much so in fact that many items are labelled “no food miles”! All the meat for the butchery is reared on the farm. Vegetables and fruit are grown here too, with surplus being made use of either in ready meals, pies or preserves and the quality of the products has to be just right. An array of local food and delights baked with loving hands entice you to fill your basket. The quality of the meat in the butchery section is a treat to see and customers can have confidence in knowing that it is reared literally yards away from the shop. Indeed you will find it impossible to leave empty handed! I am delighted to award the first prize in this section to Hootons home grown, of Brynsiencyn, Anglesey.” Llyr Gryffudd AM presented this award.
Gwydryn Hîr, Brynsiencyn, Anglesey, LL61 6HQ www.hootonshomegrown.co.uk 01248 430322
In the Best Village Shop and Post Office the previous champions in contention were:
• Hayden and Myra Bowen of Dingestow Village Shop & Post Office.
• Win & Richard Morgan of Morgan’s Newsagents, Llangadog.
• Vanessa Griffiths and her team of Henllan Village Shop, Denbigh
• Cwmdu Village Shop, Talley
• Morley House (Llangoed Post Office) Beaumaris Anglesey
Rachel said: “Our Champion of Champions award goes to a family run business that has been the heart of the community for very nearly a century. Recently the 3rd generation has secured the future of the shop despite a continued effort by the Post Office to take away a vital source of footfall and income. Over the years it has been much about the people behind the shop counter and their passion and commitment to their rural community and is most definitely “more than just a post office”. Known as “the Kate Winslet and Leonardo de-Caprio of the Rural Oscars.” The winners of this category are Morgan’s Newsagents and Post Office, Llangadog.”
Keith Davies AM presented the award.
Morgan’s Newsagents, Llangadog https://www.facebook.com/morgansnewsagentsandpostofficellangadog 01550 777697
In the Traditional category the previous champions in contention were:
• Andrew J Rees & Sons Narberth
• William Lloyd Williams and Son
• ET Jones and Sons and Daughter, Anglesey
• Owains Butchers Aberaeron
• N S James, Raglan
• T J Roberts, Bala
And a special mention for:
The late Mr Brian Jennings, Rhydlewis Smokery, Llandysul.
Rachel Evans commented: “The citation for this award could be for any one of our finalists in this category. The Champion of Champions award goes to first and foremost an outstanding butcher, passionate about supporting the local farming community and ensuring customers have the absolute best quality meat with low food miles. He is also at the heart of this market town’s life and is, as the Telegraph said when he first won, “prepared to trudge that extra wet Welsh mile” for his customers. His support for local food producers, schools, charities and his commitment to sustaining rural community life makes him a worthy winner. Voted in by his customers from far and wide, the winner is Andrew J Rees & Sons of Narberth.” William Powell AM presented this award.
Andrew Rees & Sons Ltd, 29 High Street, Narberth, Pembrokeshire, SA67 7AS, 01834 861892http://andrewreesbutchers.co.uk/ @ReesButchers
The former Enterprise champions in contention were:
• Grandma’s Stories, Carmarthenshire
• Llyn Y Fan Hatchery, LLanddeusant, Carmarthenshire
• Bob Valentine Shooting School, Gwynedd
• Capestone Organic Poultry, Pembrokeshire
• The Gower Brewery Ltd, Gower
• Nom Nom Chocolate, Carmarthenshire.
Rachel Evans told the reception: “This remarkable enterprise was set up against financial barriers in a time of economic recession. The votes for this winner came in from the length and breadth of Wales – and beyond as their enterprise has grown in to one of the best of its kind, I would think, in the UK. The idea for this business came forward in August 2011 and the first brew for this remarkable brewery took place on the 11/11/11. Producing high quality real ales has proved to be a winner and within six months they were supplying 99% of the freehouses on the Gower Peninsula with casks and by the Autumn of 2012 they had sold in addition to this, over 30,000 bottles. There is no waste either as leftover grain is used to feed sheep. Their lamb is then in turn purchased for the two public houses that are associated with the company. Now that’s a great example of recycling! Ambitious plans have come to fruition with the recent development of a new bottling plant providing yet more jobs for the rural area. I am delighted to announce that The Gower Brewery have been voted in as the Champions of Champions!” Byron Davies AM presented this award
Gower Brewery, Oldwalls, Swansea 01792 391027 http://gowerbrewery.com/ [email protected] @GowerBrewery
• The 2015 Awards will open to public nomination in late summer
• Follow us on Twitter @CAAwards and use the hashtag #RuralOscars