The Countryside Alliance Awards, Wales’ premier rural business awards, were handed out by Leader of the House and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt at a reception at the Pierhead, Cardiff Bay, on Wednesday 1st February.
The Awards, nicknamed the ‘Rural Oscars’, are now in their 13th year. They were set up to celebrate rural communities, produce, skill, heritage and enterprising spirit and they run across five categories which enable the Countryside Alliance to give a platform and a voice to diverse rural businesses.
Welsh Government Leader of the House, Jane Hutt, said: “For over ten years, these awards have highlighted and celebrated rural businesses across Wales. It is important that we recognise the crucial role played by rural businesses in Wales and champion the ongoing growth and improvement of our rural economy. There is currently some uncertainty surrounding the Welsh economy following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. It is therefore more important than ever that the rural economy remains resilient and we maximise and manage the opportunities to ensure long term success. The Welsh Government is fully behind rural businesses in Wales and I would urge all businesses to take advantage of the support available. Our Rural Development Programme offers a range of opportunities to support businesses, organisations and communities throughout rural Wales.”
The reception was kindly sponsored by Assembly Members Paul Davies, Welsh Conservatives, Simon Thomas Plaid Cymru and Neil Hamilton, UKIP, and Countryside Alliance Director for Wales, Rachel Evans, announced the winners, who were chosen from thousands of public nominations.
The Champions for Wales now advance to the British finals, to be held at the House of Lords on 22nd March.
The winners were announced as:
Local Food Champion:
Pen-min-Cae Welsh Black Beef and Lamb, Gellynen Lodge Cwmbach Builth Wells Powys LD2 3RP
Rachel said: “This farming family enterprise pride themselves on selling only their own produced Welsh beef and lamb. Familiar faces on the show circuit to many I am sure, the Nixon Family cook up fabulous home reared meat joints and burgers made by the family. Full traceability of the livestock, highlighted by photos on the trade stand of farming through the year gives consumers confidence in their produce and encourages them to ask questions about agriculture, which is always welcomed! The mail order side of the business grows daily with customers from far and wide buy with ease knowing exactly where their meat comes from. Popular amongst the locals and celebrity followers alike, it has been said by one customer that her mother hasn’t tasted meat as good as theirs, this side of the war! I am delighted to award the top spot of the local food category to the Nixon family of Pen-min-Cae Welsh Black Beef and Lamb.”
Runner up: Caroline Dawson of Fodder in the Field, from North Wales
Edwards of Conwy, High St, Conwy LL32 8DE
Rachel said: “The winner of this category is a farmer’s son and butcher who has been in the trade for over 30 years, carrying with him the same farm supplier of beef and lamb for the shop. Opening his first shop at 21 years of age, Ieuan Edwards now employs over 75 staff at both the shop and factory unit, having developed his own brand Edwards of Conwy and now trading with some of the biggest names in supermarkets, he absolutely refuses to change the recipe that delivers quality and consistency. The products are now a familiar household name from here to Hong Kong. A huge selection of both un-cooked and cooked meat and Welsh produce is displayed to perfection at their shop in Conwy, with beef and lamb hung behind the glass frames for all to see. A butchers block in the front window gives live displays of butchery and customers can see first-hand this age old skill. A true ambassador for butchery, for Welsh produce and for Wales.”
Runner up: Shan and Geraint Bowen of Bethesda Farm Shop in Narberth
Pembrokeshire Falconry, Picton Castle & Gardens, Haverfordwest SA62 4AS
Rachel said: “The winning enterprise in this category has been providing unique experiences for tourists to Wales since 2004, welcoming hundreds of visitors from over 15 countries in 2016 alone. The unique offering in Pembrokeshire to meet and fly birds of prey has been recognised by neighbouring County Carmarthenshire and from 2017, Pembrokeshire Falconry have been chosen to set up the first British Bird of Prey Centre at the National Botanical Gardens of Wales. They will run this alongside an already well established tourist attraction at Picton Castle and are all set to welcome thousands more visitors to the world of birds of prey. I warmly congratulate Alex and Emma Hill of Pembrokeshire falconry as the winners of this category.”
Runner up: Gower Heritage Centre, Parkmill, Gower, Swansea, SA3 2EH
Village Shop and Post Office Champion:
Pennard Stores, Southgate, Gower, Swansea
Rachel said: “The winning village shop and post office who will represent Wales at the House of Lords is situated in a small village, with a few more hamlets scattered in between on the edge of the Gower. Since Jodi and Jamie Francis took on the family business they have worked tirelessly to move forward with the times and to explore new opportunities for the business. They opened a café and ice cream parlour to run alongside the shop and rescued the post office along with its two members of staff when the post office closed. Local artists’ work decorate the walls and they have recently purchased the run down council facilities next door, giving them a total refurb and removing the eyesore of this popular beautiful part of the Gower. Pennard Stores on the tip of the Gower Peninsula is the heartbeat of the community and I am very pleased indeed to be able to crown them as our Champions.”
Runner up: Charlotte Christie and David Evans of Llanwrtyd Wells Auto Services and post office
Farm Enterprise Champion:
Hayley Hanson Hide
Rachel said: “The winner of the best farm Enterprise This one-woman enterprise has evolved from her sheer love of cattle and farming, but particularly her strong feelings that every part of the beast can be used. Hayley Henson Hide is a by-product from their own cattle and Hayley takes orders from farmers and producers too. Show winning hides from fatstock shows have made their way to Hayley’s farm in Breconshire where she transforms them in to all kinds of goods from footstools to handbags, cufflinks and leather bound hip flasks. It’s a lengthy process taking over twelve months with great care and detailed processes ensuring that the hides are kept in good order and transformed in to keepsakes fit for generations. A recent contract selling to a hotel in New York has given this small farm enterprise a significant boost thus providing support for the farm income and a definite future for Hayley Henson Hide.
I think it only right that I quote Hayley’s words from her entry to the competition “I will always be a cattle farmer. Aside from my family it’s my one big love”. These cows have put a roof over our heads, provided us with a home, I have so much respect for the cattle. I need to secure the future of the farm for myself and my children, not only to be viable but profitable”.
Runner up: Rob Morgan and Lloyd of Gower Fresh Christmas Trees
Notes to editors
- Photographs should be credited to Peter Anderson, Anderson Photography
- The Champions will all now represent Wales at the British final in London on 22nd March 2017
- British Champions are selected by a panel including the Daily Telegraph and Farmers Guardian
For more information contact Rachel Evans, Director for Wales on 01550 777997 or 07825 337978, or email [email protected]