Countryside Alliance Awards



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Champions are declared at Westminster!


The eleventh annual Countryside Alliance Awards, nicknamed the Rural Oscars, have been presented by Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss at the Houses of Parliament today.

The Awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage. The Champions’ reception in the Cholmondeley Room at Westminster saw over 40 businesses from across England and Wales, selected in November as finalists, celebrate rural Britain with supportive Parliamentarians and hear if they had won a title.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss voiced support for farming and the rural economy, telling the room:

“Rural businesses are the lifeblood of this country and its communities, contributing over £220 billion to our economy, so it is only right we celebrate the heroes that make our countryside great.

“I’ve seen first-hand how the nominees for the Countryside Alliance Awards represent the brilliance of rural Britain and I am delighted to be able to celebrate their many wonderful achievements.

“They are ambassadors of thriving rural enterprise; something I am committed to boosting even further through our Rural Productivity Plan. This will improve technology and infrastructure, creating the conditions for rural growth.”

Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner announced the winners as follows:


16 CAA Food Gog Magog with TrussBritish ChampionGog Magog Hills Farm Shop, Cambridge. CA CEO Tim Bonner said: “The champion’s plaque in this category goes to a family-run business with an eye firmly on the future. It’s hard to describe this business without giving away the identity, but suffice to say that when two brothers came home to Cambridgeshire to help their farming parents retire, it was the start of an exceptional new farm enterprise. Charles and Marcus are the fourth generation at Gog Magog Farm and have developed it from four employees to over 50 in just 10 years. The farm now comprises a farm shop, butchery, deli, café and outside event space. The beautiful setting has also inspired charity “sundowners” where people can come for a drink and BBQ and watch the spectacular sunset at the farm. A large proportion of the stock is made at the Gog kitchen and butchery, and almost everything is sourced locally (while realising that every gin & tonic needs a slice of lemon). The butchery manager began as an apprentice and advanced through the ranks and his family farm nearby now provides much of the meat on sale, meaning he is an expert on provenance while also ensuring the future of his farm. Training is clearly important here: not only have two recent butchery apprentices been finalists in the Young Butcher of the Year Awards, but the judges were stuffed full of cheese by the enthusiastic lady in the deli who knew everything about the many cheeses on display. It’s not just the knowledge so willingly shared, the produce is exceptional. Gog won the “Britain’s Best Burger” challenge in 2014 with their marrow burger, leading to a 600% rise in sales. The brothers tell us: “We believe that our commitment to the area is one of the reasons we are so popular. It fills us with pride that our customers feel lucky that we are here.” We look forward to seeing what the Bradfords will do next. Congratulations to the Bradford family of Gog Magog Hills Farm Shop in Cambridgeshire.”  Gog Magog Hills Farm Shop, Heath Farm, Shelford Bottom, Cambridge CB22 3AD, Tel 01223 248352

16 CAA Food Lower CloptonHighly Commended
Lower Clopton Farm Shop, Warwickshire. Tim Bonner said: “The commendation in the Local Food & Drink category goes to a business which is a real family affair. A fourth generation farmer who says “the aim is to stock only British produce, or produce with a strong connection to a British producer. We can trace almost all of our products from field to fork.” Much is produced on site, flowers are grown in the garden and sold as cut bunches. A Pick Your Own field has been so popular that it has been expanded. “Buy Local” signs are up all over the shop and special “meet the producer” events are laid on. A new café is going into development this year, the idea being to make the farm a destination to visit, not just somewhere to shop and pass through. Loyal customers are reassured by knowing the provenance of what they are buying, seeing the animals around the farm and knowing the welfare standards are high. The business has also branched into providing hampers, motivated by producing “welcome” hampers for those buying the large number of houses being built in this Warwickshire village. The public are welcomed to special events on the farm to connect them with food and farming, from lambing weekends to visiting the shop’s Farm Trail, which is especially popular with youngsters. Here is a farm that delivers conservation-minded farming, top animal welfare, delicious produce, educational events and also a hub for this rural community.” Richard and Suzie Baldwyn of Lower Clopton Farm Shop at Upper Quinton near Stratford were pleased to receive a commendation from the Secretary of State for Environment Liz Truss and from Emma Penny of Farmers Guardian. Lower Clopton Farm Shop, Upper Quinton, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire


16 CAA VSPO Heath StoresBritish ChampionThe Heath Stores, Horsmonden, Kent. Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner said: “The British Champion in the Village Shop category is something rather special. The owners have only been running the shop since 2011 after returning to the village after careers as research scientists. When they took over the shop it was tired with non-convenient opening hours and was in danger of closing down. Following a £100,000 re-fit and extensive research into what the village wanted, the shop was re-launched in November 2012 as a village shop and farm shop. Now with over 4000 lines and 30 local suppliers, this shop offers both local artisan products alongside more budget ranges to suit all pockets. The aim of the shop was to create a convenience store with a farm shop, provide local employment, particularly for the young, a place for financial transactions, a meeting place for those isolated and to play a central role in the community. A group of elderly ladies meet here at least twice every day and woe betide any passers-by who take their regular table! The Heath Stores have surpassed expectations, and the buzz in the shop when the judges visited show that something vital has been saved. This is far more than just a village shop.” The Heath Stores, The Heath, Horsmonden, Tonbridge, Kent TN12 8HT

16 CAA VSPO BarfordHighly CommendedBarford Village Shop, Barford, Warwickshire. Tim Bonner said:  “Highly Commended in the village shop category is a village shop which has been brought back to life. Closed when the previous owners retired, the village had lost its centre. The Parish Council took the initiative, a committee was formed and over 600 shares were sold in a Community Interest Company, giving the village ownership of a new shop. Within two years that new shop had been built as an extension to the village hall. Owned and run by the community, the shop is staffed by more than 80 volunteers with one full time manager. After a fraught and lengthy discussion with the Post Office – sadly not an unusual state of affairs – there is a Post Office counter at the shop staffed by specially trained volunteers who donate the salary to local charities. Community is key here, with support for local producers being non-negotiable for the village, and profits being ploughed back to community causes. In the past seven years over £67,000 have been donated to enhance village facilities, including providing the local primary school with computers and a piano, the church with chairs and a new sports and play facility in the village.”   Shop manager Corenna Jenkins from Barford Community Shop near Warwick went up to receive the commendation from the Secretary of State for Environment Liz Truss and from Philip Johnston of the Daily Telegraph. Barford Village Shop, Church St, Barford CV35 8EN.


16 CAA Butcher Whites

British ChampionGF White Butchers, Aylsham, Norfolk. Tim Bonner said: “Our Champion Butcher is a third generation success story who has been around the industry all his life, first boning out ox heads for pet food to make some pocket money when he was just 10 years old. Coming up through an apprenticeship before taking over the family business, there is still a firm belief in the traditional approach both to butchery and to customer service. All products are sourced from within a 13 mile radius from known & trusted farms operating under the highest welfare standards. Game comes from four local shoots with venison often shot to order. The shop employs four Master Butchers & one apprentice – there is a combined experience of 80yrs. NVQ levels 1, 2 & 3 are offered and training is invested in, as is the business which has recently seen a shop refit and new delivery van, helping increase trade by 28% in the last three years. All this as a third supermarket has opened in the town. As they say: “customers expect & deserve for us to know their names, their children’s names, their favourite cuts, what thickness they have their bacon, where they’ve been on holiday and whether they’ve got a gas cooker or an Aga. ” Provenance, traceability, excellence and education are key values, with the heritage of traditional butchery taken incredibly seriously. That said, the butchers were having a “Mo-vember” facial hair growing competition when the judges visited – they were impressed as they had never before met a pirate butcher! Recently invited to apply for Q Guild status, it is a pleasure to name Crawford White of GF White’s Butchers of Aylsham in Norfolk the Champion in the Butcher category.” GF White Butchers, 16 Red Lion Street, Aylsham, Norfolk, NR11 6ER, 01263 732264

16 CAA Butcher RobinsonsHighly CommendedJohn Robinson & Sons, Stockbridge, Hampshire. Tim Bonner said: “The commendation goes to a well-established, much-loved family butcher that has many, many strings to its bow. There are six full-time and four part-time butchers on staff, giving an idea of size and output. Apprentices are always in training and the family is very proud to support the next generation in this way.  A huge amount is produced on site, but the shop is more than a butcher, it is a central part of this Hampshire community. The shop’s reach spreads well beyond the high street – for example hog roasts for the local hunt, butchery classes at nearby Sparsholt College, work experience for schoolchildren, ferreting trips for anyone who would like one (including late Rural Oscars judge Clarissa Dickson Wright, who was a fan). Currently members of the third generation are in charge, with the fourth and fifth coming along. Luckily there is a strong interest in traditional craft butchery and taking this many-layered business into the future.” Paul Robinson and the team collected their commendation from the Secretary of State. John Robinson & Sons, High St, Stockbridge SO20 6HF. Tel: 01264 810609


16 CAA Tourism HarveysBritish ChampionHarveys Brewery, Lewes, East Sussex. Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner announced Harveys victory by saying: “The champion in this category is appealing in many ways. It is woven into the history of the town and area it serves, it supports local farmers and producers, it is a huge local employer and, crucially, it brews beer. Harveys Brewery is revered as a Sussex name and embodies all the high standards and values of a bygone era with the 7th and 8th generations of Harvey family at the helm. Trading since 1790, it is the current generation’s challenge to merge the old and the new, and this it does to great effect. Brewery tours are conducted personally by the Directors, late night shopping festivals are held in the yard and the dray horses ride through the town every week for no other reason than that they put a smile on peoples’ faces. Harveys are very proud of their British credentials: all hops are grown within 50 miles, all malt within 90 miles and all by-products are returned to local agriculture, including Plumpton Agricultural College which converts the spent grains into 1million pints of milk. 90% of their beer is consumed within 50 miles and the spring water for brewing is drawn via an artesian well 60 feet below their premises. Harveys support local events and activities through sponsorship of Sussex Food and Drink Awards, Lewes Business Awards and the Heavy Horse Village at the South of England Show.  With many people coming to Lewes for the coastline, South Downs and a myriad of further attractions the concept of a traditional pub is very high on people’s to do list and Harveys ensure their brewery and pubs remain as traditional and English as the beers themselves.” The Bridge Wharf Brewery, 4 Cliffe High Street, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2AH, Tel: 01273 480 209,

16 CAA Tourism BoSHighly Commended: Burnham on Sea Food Festival, Burnham on Sea, Somerset. Tim Bonner said: “The Tourism Enterprise Award is a new category this year, created to recognise the contribution tourism makes to the rural economy. The commendation goes to an enterprise that has brought new life and energy to a town that had been disconnected from its local producers. When the local greengrocer moved out of the high street to set up a local theme park it seemed the final straw and action had to be taken. In such a small town you could hear the cows in the nearby fields but it seemed increasingly difficult to eat local food, unless you grew it yourself. So surrounded by fabulous food producers this pair decided to celebrate that fact by putting on a free to attend food festival in 2012 with the aim to showcase local food. That has grown into a twice-a-year event, aiming to build stronger relationships between producers and customers and nurture new habits in the visitors. The Burnham on Sea Food Festival in Somerset offers chef demos, cooking workshops, master classes and talks, cook off competitions, home brewing championships, tractors, buskers and, crucially, bursaries for first time producers to give them a boost. It is now the largest celebration of Somerset food and drink in the county. Visitor numbers have grown steadily to around 20,000 with people planning a trip to Burnham specially to attend the festival, boosting tourism in the area. The festivals are timed to coincide with the start of half terms so that Somerset becomes a destination choice for the whole holiday – not just somewhere that is passed through on the way to Cornwall or Devon. The festival is run on a not-for-profit basis by 21 volunteers, including the two festival directors who build and run the festival year-round. Any profits made are ploughed back into supporting the local community. Congratulations to Bev and Sarah Milner-Simonds, the heart and brains behind the Burnham on Sea Food Festival.”



Tim Bonner told the assembled room: “We don’t present a Rural Hero award every year, but every now and then we meet someone through the Awards who is so much more than their shop or business that we want to honour them individually. ‘Always smiling’, ‘a heart of gold’, ‘deserves a medal’ – these are just some of the things villagers of Haughley in Suffolk had to say about their village shop-keeper, Heather Cooper. A force of nature, Heather runs the post office all on her own for six days a week but still finds time to fundraise for the pre-school local hospice & Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust. She writes response letters from Santa to the children in reply to their requests every year. When the judges visited she had spent the evening before making sausage rolls for their visit, and then made extra for the villagers, and had also visited an elderly neighbour and done her washing and ironing for her. The judges lost count of the number of people who came to tell them how much Heather means to them and how kind she is, so it is our honour to declare Heather a Rural Hero.” Heather received a certificate and a special bottle of House of Commons Champagne, signed personally by the Prime Minister.  Haughley Post Office, 2 Old St, Haughley, Stowmarket IP14 3NR


The Clarissa Dickson Wright Award, which was created with her blessing before her death in March 2014, was presented by her great friend and Countryside Alliance President, Baroness Mallalieu. Clarissa had been a long-serving judge on the Awards and was delighted to see her own name attached to a food and farming award which meant a great deal to her. Baroness Mallalieu said: “Padstow Farm Shop is a family run farm just outside the tourist hotspot of Padstow in Cornwall. Farmer Charlie Watson Smyth and his family have an entrepreneurial flair and a down to earth attitude that we feel sure chimes with what Clarissa would have appreciated.”

Baroness Mallalieu’s citation included a nod to its exceptional food, its conservation work on the farm including via Stewardship schemes, its grey partridge re-introduction project and its support for the Cornwall Red Squirrel Project, as well as the family’s devotion to countryside education in local schools. (Baroness Mallalieu’s speech is here 2015 Ann CDW Award Padstow). Padstow Farm Shop, Trethillick Farm, Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8HJ, Telephone: 01841 533060,


Notes to editors:

Local Food & Drink category finalists

  • Gog Magog Hills Farm Shop in Cambridgeshire (Champion)
  • Lower Clopton Farm Shop, Warwickshire (Highly Commended)
  • Padstow Farm Shop in Cornwall (Clarissa Dickson Wright Award for campaigning, conservation and education)
  • Ben’s Restaurant at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
  • The Kings Arms Inn at Wing in Rutland
  • Farndon Fields Farm Shop in Leicestershire
  • Blue Tin Produce at Ipsden in Oxfordshire
  • Battlefield 1403 Farm Shop in Shropshire
  • Bride Valley Farm Shop in Dorset
  • Langthornes Buffalo Produce, North Yorkshire
  • Charcutier, Llanelli


Village Shop finalists

  • The Heath Stores, Kent (Champion)
  • Barford Village Community Shop, Warwickshire (Highly Commended)
  • Siop Gymunedol Pwllglas Community Shop, Denbighshire
  • Haughley Post Office, Suffolk (Postmistress Heather Cooper, Rural Hero)
  • Sherborne Village Shop, Gloucestershire
  • Motcombe Community Shop, Dorset
  • Barkers of Huby, North Yorkshire
  • Kings Walden Post Office Store, Hitchin
  • St Tudy Community Shop and Post Office, Cornwall
  • Woods of Whitchurch, Herefordshire
  • Bardon Mill Village Store, Northumberland
  • Churchinford and District Community Shop, Somerset
  • Beech Hill Village Shop, Berkshire


Tourism Enterprise finalists

  • Harveys Brewery, West Sussex (Champion)
  • The Burnham on Sea Food & Drink Festival, Somerset (Highly Commended)
  • Really Wild Food and Countryside Festival, Pembrokeshire
  • Dalegate Market, Norfolk
  • Jordan’s Mill, Bedfordshire
  • Drusillas Park, East Sussex
  • Thame Food Festival, Oxfordshire
  • Shrewsbury Food Festival, Shropshire
  • Loyton Estate, Devon
  • New Lodge Farm, Northamptonshire
  • Narrow Waters, Cambridgeshire


Butcher finalists

  • G F White Traditional Butchers, Norfolk (Champion)
  • John Robinson of Stockbridge, Hampshire (Highly Commended)
  • Martin Player of Whitchurch, Cardiff
  • The Egg House Charcuterie, Buckinghamshire
  • The Pointer Butcher, Buckinghamshire
  • A Johnson & Son Ltd, Staffs
  • Arthur Howell, Norfolk
  • Clive Downs Butchers of Porlock, Somerset
  • Veysey’s Butchers, Cullompton, Devon
  • John Hutton Butchers, Suffolk
  • MB Farms Produce Ltd, Kent