The 2012 Countryside Alliance Awards (aka the Rural Oscars) were presented to top rural businesses by the Secretary of State for Defra, Owen Paterson MP, at a ceremony at the Houses of Parliament on 13th March.
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 eighth year and have become the definitive rural business award to win.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: “Rural businesses are vital to the country’s economic recovery. The Government is right behind them. We are backing aspiration and giving entrepreneurs the support they need to create jobs and support thriving local communities.”
The Parliamentary reception was attended by Regional Champions from across the UK & Ireland, keen to celebrate rural business and produce. The eventual UK & Ireland Champions were selected from the Regional Champions and their identities were announced live by Countryside Alliance Chairman Kate Hoey MP. The UK & Ireland Champions were selected by a UK & Ireland judging panel at a lunch in February.
The Champions for the UK & Ireland in 2012 across our five categories have been announced as follows:
Defra Local Food category
UK & Ireland Champion - Pipers Farm, Cullompton, Devon, www.pipersfarm.com 01392 881380 @pipersfarm
“The energy and passion of the Greig family leave you feeling very excited about the future of food and farming – anything is possible here. For 25 years Pipers Farm has been championing not only local food heritage, producing meat that is sensational to eat, but also supporting local family farms that have been the foundations of our rural communities and landscapes for generations. This has resulted in 25 small, family run farms, rearing animals in the same way that their parents and grand-parents would have before them, ensuring that there is a 100% guarantee for Pipers Farm produce. The passion of this family is inspiring. Peter Greig taught himself to butcher and experimented over many years with different cuts until he was satisfied. The family still experiment with different recipes and cuts and the judges were invited to stand around the frying pan at the farm with them to test the produce. It is an inclusive and supportive business that reaches out to and supports myriad local suppliers. Not only is the commitment to animal welfare, great taste and the local community paramount, there is also an encouraging glimpse into the future, with young Will bursting with ideas for the business. Pipers is an exceptional blend of heritage, tradition and dynamic enterprise.”
Highly Commended – Farndon Fields Farm Shop, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, 01858 464 838 www.farndonfieldsfarmshop.co.uk @FarndonFieldsFS
Daily Telegraph Village Shop/ Post Office category
UK & Ireland Champion - Orford General Store, Orford, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 01394 450219 www.orfordgeneralstore.com
“An absolute gem!! Penny Teale opened this store/post office/coffee shop/ delicatessen three years ago and has worked wonders. She is utterly dedicated to providing a real alternative to supermarket shopping and has transformed a tired and hardly open shop and tearoom into a thriving business that is open 7-days a week (with Post Office five days a week). The shop greatly supports the local community, sells a wealth of local produce and has become the hub of the village. There is a 'community scarf' knitting project where people drop in and knit a few inches/feet whilst having a natter. The scarf, made from donated wool, is presently about 8 feet long, and will eventually be auctioned to raise funds for the Sports pavilion. Everything raised through the shop via fundraising events goes to the Pavilion so Christmas carol concerts, cheese and wine evenings etc all benefit the village directly. Penny has recently obtained another premises in the village and opened a butchers. Supplied by Clarkes of Bramfield and local shoots, this is another welcome addition. Penny feels that winning this award can help highlight her mission to get our village shops back into business, and is hopeful that she can inspire others to try and do the same. The Countryside Alliance is delighted to reward her, though we know that Penny will consider that her entire village has won this award, not just her!”
Highly Commended – Henllan Village Shop & Post Office, Henllan, Denbigh, Denbighshire, LL16 5AR 0845 722 3344
UK & Ireland Champion – Broughton Hall Estate, Broughton, Skipton 01756 799608 www.broughtonhall.co.uk/ @Broughton_Hall
“Broughton Hall Estate is a great example of rural enterprise, with the Estate and Hall having been turned into a beautiful location in which to stay, work, play, entertain and meet. The Estate’s heritage buildings have been carefully restored and are home to companies specialising in a variety of business sectors, as well as 40 properties on the estate having been redesigned into contemporary homes. The Estate is also home to an award-winning building named Utopia which is set within the original walled garden. Utopia offers professional and modern business and meeting facilities alongside high quality contemporary bistro cuisine. Utopia can also be booked exclusively for special events such as parties, exhibitions and weddings. A total of 600 people live, work and play at Broughton and there is a real sense of community with a number of events organised throughout the year which cater for all.”
Joint Highly Commended: Lains Shooting School, Quarley, Andover, Hampshire, www.lainsshootingschool.co.uk 01264 889467
Joint Highly Commended: Cloughmills Community Action Team & Incredible Edibles, 5 Rosemount, Cloughmills, Co Antrim, BT44 9L www.incredible-edible-todmorden.co.uk 028 2766 0226. Contact – Patrick Frew – 07786 527732 @CloughmillsCAT
UK & Ireland Champion – JW Mettrick & Sons Butchers, Glossop, Derbyshire www.mettricksbutchers.co.uk/ 01457 852 239 @Mettricks
“JW Mettrick & Son has been operating for over 100 years, via five generations of the Mettrick family. Mettricks employs 56 local people full time. The business comprises two retail butcher shops, one online shop and a small abattoir. They have recently introduced a pop up butchers in the local town of Stalybridge at the request of the local MP, Andrew Bingham. The town had been without a butcher for over a year. This enterprise is profitable and has increased trade to other businesses by 25%. The main business is the retail of local meat. With the current horsemeat scandal the “buy local, eat local” message has never been more important – traceability and a short-foodchain is key and, frankly, everyone should try some Mettricks produce so they know the benefits of these things! The abattoir is a vital part of the business as it enables local farm animals to be processed. This is especially important to farmers who are increasingly selling their meat direct to customers. One of the major achievements in recent years is linking the meat with the local environment through the peak district Environmental Quality Mark run by Peak Park. Mettricks are well established and therefore very involved in the community. They support schools with fundraising, and every year as part of National Butchers’ Week Mettricks select a different local primary school to try their hand at making sausages and pork pies. Catering students visit the abattoir and then go on to see the meat processed slaughtered. Mettricks has been involved in supporting the High Peak Business Community with ‘Glossop Vision’, a scheme to regenerate the local town centres in the area. They have worked with the council to develop allotments for local people on unused land at the rear of the abattoir. This outfit has it all – community spirit, support for local farmers, top butchery skills and a way of keeping the High Street heritage of the butcher shop fresh and relevant.”
Joint Highly Commended – William Lloyd Williams & Son, 5-7 Heol Maengwyn, Machynlleth, Powys, SY20 8AA www.wil-lloyd.co.uk 01654 702106
Joint Highly Commended - Chapman's Butchers, 5 High Street, Baldock, Hertfordshire, SG7 6AZ www.chapmansbutchers.com/ 01462 892359 @chapmansbutcher
Start up category
UK & Ireland Champion – Gower Brewery Companies Ltd, Old Walls, Llanrhidian, Swansea, Abertawe, SA3 1HA www.gowerbrewery.com @GowerBrewery
“This remarkable brewery nestled away on beautiful Gower was set up against financial barriers in a time of economic recession. Events moved quickly, the idea came forward in August 2011 and the first brew took place on the 11/11/11. Producing high quality locally produced real ales has proved to be a winner for by 2012 they had sold over 30,000 bottles. Demand is increasing and core ales such as Gower Power and Lighthouse Lager have exceeded all expectations. There is no waste either as leftover grain is used to feed local sheep. Their lamb is then in turn purchased for the two public houses that are associated with two of the company Directors. Now that’s recycling!”
Highly commended – Cross Lanes Organic Farm, Cross Lanes, Barnard Castle, www.crosslanesorganics.co.uk/ 01833 630619 @CrossLanesFarm
2012’s Rural Heroes
In addition to the main categories of the Awards the judges’ reserve the right to name “Rural Heroes” for nominees who have impressed us with their dedication, energy and love of the countryside. In the 2012 Awards we named three Rural Heroes:
Sarah Farnsworth – photographer, Gloucestershire (far right)
Sarah’s photography is known to many fieldsports enthusiasts and her deep love of hunting shines through her work. Often-published, Sarah has photographed over 100 packs and we reward Sarah for capturing a way of life for everyone to enjoy. www.sarahfarnsworth.co.uk/
Kay Thompson – photographer, Gloucestershire @KayThompson_ (second right)
Kay’s work is also well known and the Awards’ judges were delighted to have two such talented photographers in the Awards this year. Kay’s iconic shots of the RAC beagles delight everyone who knows the pack and many who don’t! http://kaythompson.zenfolio.com/
Tony Fowler MBE – milkman/ mobile shop, Leicestershire (left, with daughter Anna)
Tony received dozens of nominations, all passionate about his service to a wide area of Leicestershire. Helping the elderly, delivering in all weathers, DIY, impromptu neighbourhood watch who has even helped the Police apprehend criminals, Tony has a wide fan base and we are proud to honour his contribution to rural life, which goes far beyond the call of duty.