And the North West’s Rural Oscars go to………..
The North West Champions in the 2012 Countryside Alliance Awards (aka the Rural Oscars) have been announced, with top local businesses now going forward to the UK & Ireland final. The Awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage through our small hard-working businesses. These are the eighth annual Awards and they have quickly become the rural business award to win. The hard-working and popular winners now go on to represent the region at the UK & Ireland finals at Parliament in Westminster on 13th March.
Countryside Alliance North of England Director Simon Hamlyn introduces the winners…….
Local Food winner
Hawkshead Relish, Hawkshead, Cumbria www.hawksheadrelish.com 015394 36614
This is a family-run business that diversified and grew out of the changes Foot & Mouth Disease brought to the countryside in 2001. Mark Whitehead's homemade condiments created to enhance his café menu became a popular new business opportunity, and Hawkshead Relish was born. From a range of 12 handmade preserves cooked up in small pans, the company gained recognition in the region. By 2003 the cafe was closed to allow the space needed for the ever growing demand, now country wide. Now housed in the Hawkshead Relish shop (a 16th century building) Hawkshead Relish hand make 122 preserves in small batches in open pans. All the selected ingredients are sourced through local suppliers and no artificial colourings, flavouring or preservatives are used. The range incorporates everything from Chutney to Jam, Mustard to Jellies and everything in-between. Mark Whitehead combines traditional recipes with his own new concepts creating innovative products. This is a true Cumbrian local business with local produce and the community at heart, even though the products are now exported to 24 countries!”
Highly commended - The Bulls Head, Mobberley, Cheshire, 01565 873395 http://thebullsheadpub.co.uk/wordpress/
Village Shop/ Post Office winner
N & J Owen, Malpas, Cheshire, Malpas, Cheshire, 01948 860421
This is a fantastically friendly small grocery store and Post Office. The shop always promotes the best local food with its own butcher, ready meals, and suppliers of local cheese, chutneys, jams and other produce. The shop owners also support a host of local events - donating food and their services, and dressing the shop and staff especially for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee!! It is a real community centre and much frequented by villagers. It is always innovative and thinking of ways of better serving the local village. It is definitely Open All Hours - but without Arkwright. The staff are praised for always wonderfully friendly and helpful. This really is the heart of its community.
Highly commended – Delicious Deli, Gisburn, Lancashire, 01200 445213
The Watermill, Little Salkeld, Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 1NN http://organicmill.co.uk/ 01768 881523
“Here is a wonderful family business established in 1974 by Ana and Nick Jones who restored and brought the 250 year old Cumbrian watermill back into fulltime production of specialist stoneground, organic and biodynamic quality flours milled exclusively from home-grown grain. The Joneses champion and teach breadmaking by hand, as well as cooking and baking using organic, biodynamic, local and seasonal ingredients. There is a huge degree of community involvement as local jobs have been created, including volunteering opportunities, and village events held at the Mill benefit everyone. This exciting enterprise has managed to preserve a vital piece of Cumbrian heritage and is making it not only survive but thrive in a modern setting. There are plans for the business to become a social enterprise with staff and the local community getting involved in ownership and management. We will watch this transition with interest – what a unique and exciting venture!”
Highly commended – Lanercost Tea Rooms, Brampton, Cumbria, www.lanercostexperience.co.uk and 016977 41267
RF Burrows, Bunbury, Tarporley, Cheshire, www.rfburrowsandsons.co.uk/ 01829 260342
This butcher has been trading since 1924 and maintains its traditional values of great meat well hung and butchered, home-made sausages and burgers etc, but an eye firmly on customer service and community values. One of the passionate nominations for this butchers said simply “they are consistent: outstanding sourced local high quality produce; unfailing customer service of the highest order; central to the character of the village.” Customers also believe the community draws confidence from the owners, their colleagues and suppliers. Who said the High Street was dead?
Highly commended – Mansergh Hall Farm, Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria, www.manserghhall.co.uk/ 01524 271397
Start up category winner
Llama Karma Cafe, Penrith, Cumbria, www.llamakarmakafe.co.uk/ 01768 866776
Llarma Karma Kafe is a relatively new business which in 18 months has gone from employing relatively few people to employing 14 people and generating a significant turnover in a rural area. This is another family-run enterprise that is a new facet to the original llama trekking business. As llamas are classed as the Dolphins of the animal world they provide a very calming and therapeutic environment around themselves and they bond quickly to people and actively lower blood pressure. Clients trekking with the llamas understandably did not want to hand them back at the end of the trek so Mary and her team were constantly asked if a visitor centre or café where they could visit the llamas again could be created…hence the Llama Karma Kafe idea was born! The cafe combines excellent homemade food with equine and animal assisted therapeutic learning which is immensely popular and quite unique for the area. Mary’s family are enjoying working together, staff are included and inspired and of course the llamas are the stars of the show and are thriving. It is great to see the business rewarded for their magnificent efforts and I wish them well in the London finals.