Countryside Alliance Awards



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Champions for Ireland 2012


Local Food Category
Bruce's Hill Farm Shop, Ballymena, Co Antrim Contact – Mike Fraser – 07889 403826 or 028 2589 2774
This is a passionately committed business firmly focused on local production, from field to kitchen. The team is drawn from the local workforce and promotes traditional rare breeds, enhanced by an ethical approach to animal husbandry and support for the local community and charitable efforts. A very high proportion of the meat sold in shop has been produced on own, nearby farms. Stock is slaughtered in nearest town & returns immediately to be hung & butchered on the shop premises. Products bought in from other producers are sourced as far as possible from local farms and artisan producers. Wall & other display space in the coffee-shop area is available to local craftspeople for display of merchandise. The shop has directly generated local employment & staff are being trained to cater for planned expansion of the business. Innovative animal housing (roundhouse) is being demonstrated to other farmers as a model for welfare-friendly livestock production. Local voluntary & charitable groups have been facilitated in the use of shop premises & forecourt for special fund-raising events & promotions. Other vacant space within the development is now likely to be let to craft-based retailers, building up a new identity for the complex (former kitchen / bathroom complex). The landlord of the shop premises is delighted at this new local identity which has sprung from the opening of this retail business.
The proprietor builds on his experience in third-world development funding in his focus on ethical aspects of food production and community-centred business. The business’s specialism is production and sale of Dexter, Angus and Belted Galloway beef. Dexter beef now commonly available, but Belted Galloway beef was not previously promoted in NI & is an innovation which should improve prospects for this rare breed. Winning this award does, we believe, reward innovation within traditional, small-scale beef production


Village Shop Category
Rathlin Co-op Shop, Rathlin Island, BT54 6RT Contact – Penny Sewell - 028 2076 3923
Rathlin Island off the North Coast of Antrim is home to about 100 residents. The shop is entirely run by fully motivated voluntary workers, and is located at the main harbour. The premises has only been donated as a short term solution to help out after the closure of the previous run shop business and the team of volunteers are working hard to locate another permanent location. It is clear the Village shop is vital to the island. Most residents undertake the bulk of their shopping on the mainland, but to obtain weekly fresh food, such as bread, milk, fruit and veg etc, the shop provides a good range, thus supporting its purpose.
The shop volunteers also purchase weekly for individual requests, demonstrating their willingness to go that extra bit further for the community even after providing their own services for free.
The shop opening hours are from 11 to 1 and 2 to 4, (closed Sundays) which is very reasonable under voluntary conditions and per population size. The shop purchases mostly all their stock from local businesses in Ballycastle which is the nearest mainland town to Rathlin Island. This demonstrates supporting local produce and businesses.
The shop is definitely part of the community that supports many residents who would struggle otherwise.
I fully believe that the Rathlin Co-operative Society Ltd shop should be given the recognition that it fully deserves. Their hard work and fantastic grasp of supporting their local community should not go unseen, so I award them with the Village shop title for Ireland
To conclude, although I have decided that the Village shop overall winner is the Rathlin Co-op shop; I do recommend that the Village Shop in Dunloy efforts should be recognized and would award them a high commendation.
Highly commended: The Village Shop in Dunloy, Ballymena, Co Antrim

Enterprise Category
Cloughmills Community Action Team & Incredible Edibles, 5 Rosemount, Cloughmills, Co Antrim, BT44 9L 028 2766 0226. Contact – Patrick Frew – 07786 527732
"Simply put this outfit grows and campaigns for local food, but it is so much more than that. The Cloughmills Community Action Team (CCAT) is inspirational. The project involves the whole community and is trying to bring people together to improve their quality of life, work together for mutual benefit and learn new skills and confidence along the way. Everything they do is, either directly or indirectly, for the benefit of the community and cross-community relations have improved greatly, with schools working alongside each other where they didn't previously. There have been ‘edible hedges’ planted through the village to encourage the local community to eat healthier and to use what resources are available to supplement their diet. The enterprise has held courses for the community, and wider, on such things as jam and bread making and home-made cosmetic and cleaning products.
At the original site (the enterprise has two now) there are 12 growing boxes which individuals or families ‘rent’ out, usually in return for two bags of used clothes which are sold to the local charity shop. The individuals are free to grow whatever they choose and this initiative provides an opportunity for them to grow their own produce, reduce their cost of living and reduce the amount of food waste they produce. CCAT have built a shed with a kitchen, a picnic area and a yurt at their most recent site. This is available for parties to hire and provides a nice setting for community meetings or activities. The team has held open days to fully introduce the community to what is happening in their area. Plans are also in motion for a micro-brewery on the site. This will provide revenue for the project through the availability of brewery courses, and not through sales of the final product. It is also the intention to be able to employ more people; they hope to be able to employ people will learning disabilities and behavioural problems, people who will really benefit from the job.
The small village of Cloughmills is to be commended for community spirit, willingness to embrace new ventures and their desire to improve their own quality of life and that of their neighbours. The enterprise displays a great selflessness that should be aspired to."
Highly commended: Trail Kilkenny, 00343 (0) 56 7752111

Butcher Category
Martin Divilly Butchers, Galway, Co. Galway 091 523947. Contact Martin Divilly – 00353 91 523 947. Lyall says: “All Divilly’s suppliers are from the province of Connaught. As much as possible, Martin tries to source high quality produce from the Galway region and many of the suppliers come from within a 15 mile radius. Customers are informed of the locality of the shop’s produce and they support the butchers because they champion local food of a very high quality. This family business was founded in 1927 and its local ethos is as strong now as ever. As members of Good Food Ireland they are committed to locally sourced Irish produce and support many producers in the area. A huge amount is produced on site: own sausages in a variety of flavours; a burger selection famous in Galway; homecured bacon cured on the premises using a low salt healthy recipe. The Dry Aged Galway Beef is dry aged the traditional way, the result is a beef with natural sweetness, a deep red colour and superb cooking qualities. All staff are extensively trained in the merits of all products and share the pride in Irish produce that Divilly family insists on. The store supports as many charities or groups as possible and concentrate on smaller community based groups who find it harder to gain support. The business is enhanced by the team’s role in the community: they are on first name terms with most customers and customer service, loyalty and community are as much priorities as the produce."