Our Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes:

While attending the Countryside Alliance Awards reception in Cardiff this week, one of the winners remarked to me, clutching his red plaque and beaming from ear to ear, that a bit of good news goes a long way. I could not disagree, especially in the current climate where a dearth of fresh veg from Europe seems to be the least of the UK’s problems. It was specially inspiring, then, to meet the cream of Welsh rural businesses drawn from across the country and each, with their own specialisations, contributing variously to the rural economy, to dinner tables across Wales and further afield, and to community life more broadly.

While there are plenty of “taste” awards for produce, our awards are specifically about people, and this seems to have struck a chord. Several of the nominees on the night remarked that these are the awards to win, and their success lies in a simple support of good people doing great things. This year’s winners are a case in point. We have honoured a world-renowned Pembrokeshire falconry centre, a lady farmer who produces furniture from her cows’ hides, a top Conwy butcher who does demonstrations in his shop window, a family farm who, we have been told, produce the best beef “this side of the war”, and a village shop that is bucking the closure-trend and expanding into an ice cream parlour and café so that the oldest and youngest in their Gower community have somewhere to meet. I challenge you to find a more diverse awards scheme, but the thing all of these businesses have in common is their commitment to the countryside whether through farming, conservation or community values.

You can read a list of the Welsh winners as announced by our Director for Wales, Rachel Evans, but suffice it to say that they are going to give English businesses a run for their money when they come to the grand final at Westminster in late March.

Our thanks must go to Leader of the House and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, for presenting the prizes at the reception, and thanks also to the Assembly Members of all parties who came along to support the nominees.

Tim Bonner

Follow Tim @CA_TimB