We're proud to announce our Countryside Alliance Awards 2023 Regional Winners and Highly Commended...Read more
The Senedd in Cardiff Bay played host to the Countryside Alliance Awards on Tuesday 24 January which saw the best of the best of rural businesses across the length and breadth of Wales come together to be recognised at the Welsh Champions Reception.
Nearly 6000 people from Wales voted in the Awards to tell us who their favourite rural businesses were from our finalists. This only goes to show how the people of Wales have taken the Awards to their hearts and want to support excellent local businesses.
The Awards celebrate our rural communities and the role that rural businesses play in keeping them together. Our winners promotion and defence of Welsh produce, skills and rural life deserves all the credit it gets and the Countryside Alliance is proud to be honouring a group of people who are passionate about their countryside and passionate about providing quality goods, services and employment to rural communities and beyond.
Welsh Director, Rachel Evans says "The Countryside Alliance Awards recognise the hard work that goes on behind the scenes at these rural businesses and the contribution they make to their communities. Once again we had a very strong selection of finalists forward and I firmly believe that each and every one of our winners will represent Wales ably at the UK final in May. We have every chance of bringing a title back to Wales."
Meet our Welsh winners who will be going on to represent Wales at the House of Lords in May at the UK Champions Reception.
Winner – Chilly Cow, Denbighshire - This is a family run enterprise who are ambassadors for their industry. Looking to add value to their primary product, milk, they embarked on an ambitious venture to make their own ice cream yet using less than 4% of the milk produced on farm by their 90 organic Brown Swiss cattle. The remainder of the milk goes direct to McDonalds, who are stringent in their inspections for the highest animal welfare standards possible, and the business aims to be carbon neutral by 2030. From the farmyard to the garden, that's how far the milk has to travel until it becomes the Artisan ice cream cleverly branded as "Chilly Cow".
Runner-up – Forage Farm Shop, Cardiff - This award is presented to a family with a 200 year farming family tradition. What started with grandfathers 1,000 head of cattle is now a thriving farm shop on the Penllyn Estate that combined, employs over 50 people. Forage Farm Shop & Kitchen presents to us a food emporium which is supplied mostly from their own farm with the remainder supplied by over 100 local partners. They were all set to go for March 2020 when Covid hit. The decision was made to retain the core staff they had already soured and wait for the green light to open. How challenging it must have been for them at that time, but now how rewarding to see their dreams and hard work come to fruition.
Highly Commended – The Queen Bee Honey Company, Torfaen
Highly Commended – Café Mor, Pembrokeshire
Winner – Daniel Morris Butchers, Denbighshire – This is a butcher who has proved to be sustainable and has developed at pace since he competed in this competition in 2021. Having opened in 2019 when Covid hit they lost the hospitality trade as did others, overnight. Adaptations to website ordering and home deliveries took over with a drive to succeed from Daniel seeing him open another butchers shop in Mold and another in Llangollen in 2022. Lamb is sourced from the local auction marts in Mold or Ruthin, pigs from Corwen and the beef comes directly from the family farm all complimented with other meats and goods sourced locally and from Wales. Daniel stresses that these are difficult times, but he is trying his hardest to continue with the development of the business which has gone form employing two to fifteen people.
Runner-up – Pennant Valley Game, Powys - A background in gamekeeping fostered a passion for processing and selling game for Izzy Hosking who set up Pennant Valley Game in 2012. Processing her own shot game and that from the estate on which her husband remains headkeeper, saw Izzy at farmers markets and events across Mid Wales and business was growing nicely. In 2019 the opportunity came for her to purchase the local butchers shop and in March 2020 the doors opened - best described as a baptism of fire. But with the skills and knowledge of Mark the butcher, they have thrived. Lamb is sourced mostly form their own flock just five miles down the road and the rest selected direct from local farms. Pork is sourced from a farm just seven miles down the road and Izzy has recently started buying beef direct from the farm. Another young company with a great future.
Highly Commended - Nash and Son's Butchers, Gwent
Highly Commended - Anglesey Fine Foods, Anglesey
Winner - Y Madryn, Gwynedd - is the labour of love of five friends who clubbed together to purchase the derelict pub which had fallen into disrepair. Their vision was to renovate and restore the listed building back to its former glory whilst creating a community hub, employment for local people, a venue for events as well as the core business of serving quality locally sourced produce to locals and holidaymakers from all over the world. Opening the doors in May 2021 presented the five friends with huge challenges and carried a heavy financial risk. Y Madryn has thrived in its first couple of years proving itself as a fantastic place to eat as well as a popular outdoor venue for gigs and events.
Runner-up – The Royal Oak, Powys - Is a traditional Welsh pub which is by now well known for high quality home cooked food and a terrific warm and welcoming atmosphere. This busy pub is a hive of activity particularly in the summer months situated on the edge of the Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal. Local produce is so very important with lamb on the menu coming from the farm next door and venison burgers just a few miles up the road. Regularly hosting the local rural groups and sports clubs providing a hub for meetings, the family continue to improve the pub for the good of the community, with future plans to ensure the sustainability of the pub in these challenging times.
Highly Commended – The Cresselly Arms, Pembrokeshire
Highly Commended - The Old White Hart, Vale of Glamorgan
Winner - Dyfed Shire Horse Farm, Dyfed - Mrs Enid Cole inherited a lifelong passion for the Shire Horse when her father sadly passed away in 1991. Shire's had been used for working the land and indeed were still the preferred horse power for the family even when tractors were readily available. Mrs Cole soon realised that if she wanted to continue to breed and keep shires then they had to pay their way and so in 1992 she diversified the farm into a visitor attraction which has traded ever since. People can visit to see the animals which now includes a flock of Balwens and a herd of Hereford cattle, they can see the shires working and using the traditional farm equipment which comes direct form their on-farm museum. All of this is complimented by play areas and a café. There is a significant conservation story told here too as the number of breeding shires has dramatically declined which has seen the family increase the number of breeding shires they keep in order to try and sustain the breed. There have been Shire horses that have reached the top of their game with military honnours with Apollo in the role as drum horse at Her Majesty's State funeral and now Dyfed Merlin who was named by none other than the Queen Consort when she visited Huw, Enid and family at the Dyfed Shire Horse Farm.
Runner-up – Foxy Pheasant, Pembrokeshire – This business that has re-vitalised a cottage craft style industry in Pembrokeshire. Producing quality Welsh made country clothing ranges from a small team of craftspeople and competing on a world stage, Amada Harries-Lea has proven that there is a future for manufacturing clothing in Wales. Amanda has carved a niche for herself that combined her artistic talents with her fanatical passion for the sporting country life and that, together with her dogged determination to use her previous experiences in rural enterprise, ensured she created a design business that was truly different.
Highly Commended - Ty Poeth Farm, Pontypool
Highly Commended - Moel Fammau Donkeys, Denbighshire
Village Shop and Post Office
Winner – Bayview Stores, Pembrokeshire - This went to an extremely hard working family who have relished in providing a community service since the day they received the keys of the shop over 20 years ago. Set in the remote village of Solva, Gwyn Price and his family at Bay View Stores have made it a life-long commitment to keeping the doors open of this lovely village shop which is bursting with essentials. During Covid the created "Cwtch boxes" which were boxes of food, treats and pick me ups to those who needed it. They delivered over 300 "Cwtch boxes" to those who were tirelessly helping others during the pandemic. This has now developed in to a "Cwtch Drop-In", a separate part of the shop where people can call in to donate food or to pick up what they need, free of charge and in private. The service provided by Gwyn, his mother Jean (who still puts a shift in at a graceful age) and the family is hard to put down on paper. So many seek their advice, they are indeed the first port of call for residents, holiday makers and general passers-by. There is so much that this busy shop provides the community with, also housing the post office, and are engaged with local charities and events. They are the beating heart and I think I can hear Gwyn's heart beating from here!
Runner-up - Ty Cemaes, Machynlleth – This Award goes to the lady behind the counter as much as to the shop itself. Ty Cemaes in Machynlleth privately run business with a social enterprise outlook with all profits re-invested into the business. The aim was to offer a little of everything with a combination of local, traditional, new and exciting. As such they only sell one version of everything and prioritise Welsh and local products. Cantin Cemaes compliments the shop were hot food is served, and spare rooms adjacent to the café section can be rented out for private counselling sessions, support groups and even for a hair cut!
Highly Commended – Capel Dewi Stores, Ceredigion
Highly Commended – The Outpost, Rhosemoor