Countryside Alliance Awards

 

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And the South West’s Rural Oscars go to………..

The South West of England’s Champions in the 2013 Countryside Alliance Awards (aka the Rural Oscars) have been announced, with top local businesses now going forward to the UK final. 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 ninth year and have become the definitive rural business award to win. The lucky winners will go on to represent the region at the UK & Ireland finals at Parliament in Westminster on 30th April. Regional Director and Judge Alison Hawes introduces the winners:

 

Local Food Category Champion: Dike & Son, Ring Street, Stalbridge, Sturminster Newton, Dorset, DT10 2NB, 01963 362404, [email protected]  www.dikes-direct.co.uk  Twitter: @dikeandson

Alison says: “Dike and Son – an amazing place that is a genuine local “supermarket” in the best of all ways where customer service is a speciality.  The first time I have been in a truly independent supermarket selling all the best of things local as well as essentials – over 100 local suppliers are supported by the shop, there is a butchery counter offering 16 varieties of fresh locally-made sausages, a deli with over 100 different cheeses, a fish counter serving fresh squid, mussels, sea bass and lobster  – and a huge drinks department stocked with fine wines, 127 different ales, 43 whiskies and 99 types of cider.  Family owned since 1851 and the only supermarket in Stalbridge, it is a place focused on traditional customer service but is also looking to the future with green and educational initiatives and plans to progress into online shopping. The free village delivery service saw Andy Dike out on his quad in snowy weather ensuring deliveries were made, showing the local community ethos that runs through the business. Support for a local farming and food educational project, Future Roots, highlights the commitment to re-connecting people of all ages with out countryside. Dikes is a great place and I only wish it was nearer to me!”

 

 

Joint Village Shop/ Post Office Category Champions

Joint Champion: Church Street Stores and Café, Church Street, Morchard Bishop, Crediton, Devon, EX17 6PQ, 01363 877826 [email protected] www.facebook.com/churchstreetstores

Alison comments: “Opened in May 2012 by Clare Radburn and her partner Matthew Reid, Church Street Store was borne of a community need and has grown to be so much more than that. Having renovated the building themselves they now sell over 1,000 lines, 46% of which are locally produced. Some items are actually made/ grown in Morchard Bishop including apple juice, alpaca yarn, greetings cards, plants and salad leaves, showing the strong support Clare and Matt offer to their community and local producers.  A café with eight covers offers a beating heart to the village and the shop is always buzzing and full of community spirit. Clare and Matthew say they have found their perfect job!”

 

 

 

 

Joint Champion: Chalke Valley Stores, URC Chapel, High Road, Broad Chalke, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP5 5EH, 01722 780998, [email protected]  www.chalkevalleystores.co.uk  Twitter: @chalkevalleyhub

Alison says: "One of the nominations for Chalke Valley Stores described it as “indispensable” and my fellow judge described her visit as “an absolute pleasure”.  Shop Manager Ellen says she gets goosebumps thinking of the community spirit that is in the village now, which is fantastic to hear. A crumbling Church has been turned into the most fantastic community space which houses the shop (products are 90% locally sourced), a café, village archives and an office space that is used by the Church of England for their administration, local Community PC (who has no local station) and various other groups who use the meeting area.  The café,  as well being a drop in for homemade cakes, soups etc is now used for groups who meet there, including Mothers’ Storytelling and  Knit and Natter for the older residents.  The shop is turning over £1000 a day!  Profit is far exceeding expectations and any profit is going back into the community with the exception of cigarette sales where profit goes to Cancer Research. A team of 60 volunteers run the shop, and Wiltshire Council is so impressed by the project they are investing £30,000 into making a bus stop and car parking.  A local architect, lawyers and all professionals needed for the project gave services free and the result shows. The atmosphere is amazing, the refurbishment of the Church just makes you want to visit the café and the Church itself benefits as Sunday service still takes place and now more people are attending.  They are trying to run a local apprentice scheme with the professionals who helped set up the shop who will offer work experience to LOCAL youngsters to encourage them to stay in the area rather than having to move away. This is an exceptional enterprise that shows what can be done for the good of the whole community.”

 

Butcher Category Champion:  Partridge Farm Meats, Partridge Farm, Templeton, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 8BN, 01884 242657/07775 900967, [email protected]  www.partridgefarmtiverton.com  Twitter: @PartridgeFarm

Alison says: “One nomination, on answering the question “reason for nomination” simply answered: “the bacon”. You can’t say fairer than the strong devotion Duncan and Hannah’s customers feel for the quality of their rare breed produce, raised slowly outdoors on their 75 acre farm near Tiverton, and the clutch of food awards they have won are further testament.  Dedicated to breeding and butchering, the quality of the produce is second to none and the meat is butchered on-farm. Butchery lessons are also on-offer, customers can buy online or at various farmers’ markets and Partridge Farm Meats are also available at several local pubs and outlets. The slow food, high welfare ethos on display here is impeccable and I am pleased to award this dynamic young couple with a Rural Oscar. Their efforts are all the more impressive when you consider they have young twins in tow, hopefully young farmers and butchers in the making!”

 

 

 


Start-Up Category Champion:  Black Cow Vodka, Seaborough, Beaminster, Dorset, DT8 3QY, 01308 868844, info[email protected],  www.blackcow.co.uk,  Twitter: @BlackCowVodka

Alison says: “This is a very exciting enterprise. Dairy farmer Jason Barber set out with the trailblazing aim of “producing Vodka from milk - a pure milk vodka made from the milk of grass grazed cows”. No one else is doing this and it goes to show the ingenuity of dairy farmers that diversification into other arenas is ensuring survival in a tough climate. The branding, the product itself and the story behind it is all exceptional and it is very exciting to have such a different business making a splash in the Awards this year. Jason has pitched this exactly right, it is a high end product which opens up a whole new market for a 250 strong dairy herd.”

Highly Commended: Rowdey Cow Cafe and Ice Cream Parlour, Lower Farm, Devizes Road, Rowde, Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10 2LX, 01380 829666, [email protected], www.rowdeycow.co.uk

 

 

 

 

·         The counties making up our Westcountry region are Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire, Dorset & Hampshire

·         These South West Regional Champions now go forward to represent the Westcountry in the UK finals which will be held at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 30th April 2014.