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.
Introducing your 2023 Welsh Champions...
Local Food and Drink
Winner: Chilly Cow, Denbighshire
A family run enterprise and 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. 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, Cowbridge
This award is presented to a family with a 200-year farming family tradition. What started with grandfather's 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.
Highly Commended – The Queen Bee Honey Company, Torfaen
Highly Commended – Café Mor, Pembrokeshire
Winner: Daniel Morris Butchers, Denbigh
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 overnight (as did many others). 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. Daniel stresses that these are difficult times, but he is trying his hardest to continue with the development of the business which has gone from employing two to fifteen people.
Runner-up: Pennant Valley Game, Corwen
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.
Highly Commended - Nash and Sons Butchers, Blackwood
Highly Commended - Anglesey Fine Foods, Anglesey
Winner: Y Madryn, Gwynedd
Y Madryn 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.
Runner-up: The Royal Oak, Powys
The Royal Oak 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, they regularly host local rural groups and sports clubs providing a hub for meetings and the family continues to improve the pub for the good of the community, with future plans to ensure the sustainability of the pub in these challenging times.
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 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.
Runner-up: Foxy Pheasant, 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.
Village Shop and Post Office
Winner: Bayview Stories, Pembrokeshire
The title of 'winner' 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. 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 of their community.
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 is a 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.
Highly Commended – Capel Dewi Stores, Ceredigion
Highly Commended – The Outpost, Rhosemoor