The wait is over! The 2019 Countryside Alliance Awards, also known as the Rural Oscars, were handed out to the top rural enterprises in the country by Defra minister Lord Gardiner of Kimble, on Wednesday 19 June. The cream of rural businesses from across England and Wales, who had already won their regional title, descended on Westminster to find out if they were to be crowned national champion.
Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner said: “I am delighted that so many hard-working rural enterprises - from food and drink businesses to village post offices and butcher shops - have been honoured with these renowned awards.
“Rural communities generate almost £250 billion for our economy, and it is critical that we acknowledge those organisations that make vital contributions to vibrant communities, prosperity and wellbeing.”
The Awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage through our small hard-working businesses. They are now in their 14th year and have become the definitive rural business award to win. This year we received more than 18,000 nominations, meaning these finalists truly are the best of the best. The Awards are divided into five categories:
- Local Food and Drink
- Village Shop/ Post Office
- Rural Enterprise
The British Champions as presented at Parliament are:
Champion in the Local Food and Drink category
Winner - The Sussex Peasant, Brighton, East Sussex.
Countryside Alliance Awards director Sarah Lee said: “The Sussex Peasant is an incredible initiative, championing local, high quality, seasonal produce through a mobile farm shop. Stepping into the converted old horsebox reveals an Aladdin’s cave with a veritable feast of local food. Ed’s passion for supporting local farmers and ensuring local communities know where their food comes from is the driving force behind this enterprise.”
Highly Commended - The Lambing Shed Farm Shop, Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 8RB
Countryside Alliance Awards director Sarah Lee said: “What has been achieved in just three years of opening is truly amazing. The team at the Lambing Shed are passionate about what they do, from producing all their own lamb and beef, to working with over 65 local suppliers in store. As farmers their work is their lives and this shop is not only a haven of local and food and drink to Cheshire but an essential part of the community.”
Champion in the Village shop / Post Office category:
Winner - Hampstead Norreys Community Shop, Hampstead Norreys, Thatcham, Berkshire RG18 0TD
Countryside Alliance Awards director Sarah Lee said: “This vibrant and well stocked village shop is the hub and lifeline for people in this rural area, serving the community on so many levels. The shop is always evolving and has recently embarked on an initiative to reduce plastic waste. From fairs to an art gallery there is always something going on in this lively shop. Partly run by volunteers and non-profit making it is a perfect example of ‘where there is a will there is a way’.”
Highly Commended - Sutton General Store and Post Office, Sutton, Cheshire SK11 0EB
Countryside Alliance Awards director Sarah Lee said: “Alan has taken over his village shop and made it something great for the community. His background is in greengrocery and the shop now excels in this area. Alan has great plans for the shop – including a refit, major building works, re-laying the carpark and expansion outside to create an area for charities to promote themselves, run events and host a farmers’ market. He tries to source as much food locally as he can and provides a real service, as the nearest other shops are 20 mins away.”
Champion in the Rural Enterprise category:
Winner - Two Farmers Crisps, Peterstow, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire
Countryside Alliance Awards director Sarah Lee said: “Two Farmers Crisps have brought together two of the nation’s favourite passions – crisps and the environment. Farmers, Mark Green and Sean Mason, have developed a sustainable crisp brand using their own Herefordshire potatoes but their greatest invention is the fact they are the first crisp brand to use a 100% compostable packet which will biodegrade in just 26 weeks in a home composter. No longer do we need to worry about the impact our favourite snack is having on the environment.”
Highly Commended – South Denbighshire Partnership, Corwen LL21 0DP
Countryside Alliance Awards director Sarah Lee said: “South Denbighshire Partnership can only be described as a phenomenal social enterprise which has enriched the lives of so many vulnerable and isolated members of rural communities. Canolfan Ni plays host to a number of activities which encourage the participation from some of society’s most vulnerable people. This enterprise would not function as it does without the huge dedication and commitment that the staff and volunteers provide.”
Champion in the Butcher category:
Winner - Brackley Butchers, 22 Market Place, Brackley, Northants NN13 7DP
Countryside Alliance Awards director Sarah Lee said: “Brackley Butchers have put animal welfare and their customer needs at the heart of this business. Working with local farmers they can assure the highest levels of animal welfare, sustainability and provenance, whilst promoting the importance of shopping locally. Keeping the craft of butchery alive and brimming with great ideas to encourage people to try something new this butcher not only serves you top quality meat but a side order of banter and a smile.”
Highly Commended - Roy Porter Butchers, Chatburn, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 4AW
Countryside Alliance Awards director Sarah Lee said: “Anne is really on the ball, and it’s so good to see a lady butcher at the top of the game. She knows her meat and the business prides itself on meat from rare breed cattle, farmed locally. This is a quality butchers at the very heart of its community.”
Champion in the Pub category:
Winner - The Iorwerth Arms, 48 High St, Bryngwran, Holyhead LL65 3PP
Countryside Alliance Awards director Sarah Lee said: “The Iorwerth Arms is a community led enterprise which evolved from a failed bid by developers to purchase the last businesses in the village. The pub has re-opened and is proving to be sustainable ensuring a future for the pub and indeed the community. A recently modernised well equipped kitchen has put them in good stead to continue with their plans to offer local food. Future plans for the pub include the renovation of a barn to house a village shop, hairdressers and a butchers, completely rejuvenating the village.”
Highly Commended - The Exmoor White Horse Inn, Exford, Somerset TA24 7PY
Countryside Alliance Awards director Sarah Lee said: “This Inn plays an important part in promoting the area, interests that support the local economy, and ventures that abound in and around Exmoor and beyond. The Inn is a welcoming place for both locals and visitors and is a true beacon of rural hospitality and enterprise.”
Clarissa Dickson Wright Award and Game Champion
In addition to our main awards we also have two other special categories – The Clarissa Dickson Wright Award and the Game Champion award.
The Game Champion Award was inspired by the growing interest in game meat and to support and boost in the game meat market.
This award honours excellence in promoting and marketing game to the general public.
Game Champion: Stour Valley Game, Canterbury, Kent
Countryside Alliance Awards director Sarah Lee said: “With a strong commitment to the countryside, Daran and Stephen started up Stour Valley Game with the aim of supplying high quality game to the public and to support shoots by providing them with an outlet for their game. The key to their success is maintaining a high standard of game at an affordable price while educating and encouraging the next generation to enjoy game as much as they do. “
Clarissa Dickson Wright Award: Suffolk Market Events, Sudbury, Suffolk
Countryside Alliance Awards director Sarah Lee said: “Justine Paul has been described as a local dynamo who was so passionate about local produce that she stepped in to save her local farmers market. Now running six flourishing farmers markets in Suffolk, Justine has ensured that access to local food has never been easier. These markets act as community hubs and springboards for local producers to develop their businesses, creating a food community that is nourishing, and sustaining and that customers feel a part of.”