The North East of England’s Champions in the 2013 Countryside Alliance Awards (aka the Rural Oscars) have been announced at a reception at Blagdon Hall in Northumberland, with top local businesses now going forward to the UK & Northern Ireland final. Regional finalists from across the North East came to the reception on 14th March to hear if they had taken a title.
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 North East at the UK & Northern Ireland finals at Parliament in Westminster on 30th April. Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who judged the region, introduces the winners she is putting forward for consideration by the national panel*.
Local Food Champion
Sunnyhills Farm Shop, South Meadows, South Road, Belford, Northumberland, NE70 7DP, 01668 219662, [email protected], www.sunnyhillsfarmshop.co.uk Twitter: @sunnyhillsof
Anne-Marie says: “This is a great shop, developed by a farming family since 1973 into the farm shop, butchery, deli, family friendly café and play area and gift shop there today, all the while remaining a working farm. The family have evolved the business in this way, as they say themselves, “to allow us to showcase the best of local produce and to create a retail environment for both visitors to Northumberland and our local community”. There is no nobler aim and Sunnyhills is an exceptional ambassador for farming, other producers and the enjoyment of local produce.”
Village Shop / PO Champion
Bardon Mill Village Store and Tea Room, 1 Millfield Terrace, Bardon Mill, Hexham, Northumberland, NE47 7HX, 07756 790108, www.bardonmillparish.co.uk/shop.html
Anne-Marie says: “The previous shop closed in 2010 and Michael & Dawn Smith have worked hard to re-develop a great new set up for the good of the entire community. Their family is totally involved in the village and the wider community and they are always keen to hear feedback from customers about what they can do next. There is already an excellent range of services and it is growing, and the tea-shop is a welcome addition. The role of the village shop is to be the heart of the community and Bardon Mill manages this beautifully.”
Highly Commended: Etal Post Office and Lavender Tea Room, 2 Etal Village, Cornhill on Tweed, Northumberland, TD12 4TJ, 01890 820777, [email protected], www.thelavendertearooms.org.uk, Twitter: @LavenderTearoom.
Blagdon Farm Shop, Unit 16-18 Milkhope Centre, Blagdon, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, NE13 6DA, 01670789924, [email protected] www.theblagdonfarmshop.co.uk, Twitter: @blagdonfarmshop
Anne-Marie says: “Blagdon always has wonderful produce and the butchery counter is a must-visit, offering a wide range of the finest meat Northumbria can offer. Simon and his team work hard with other farmers so that the taste and quality cannot be beaten, and the bestselling Blagdon banger needs to be tasted to be believed! There is a wide range of delicious prepared foods which are a must for busy people. The Blagdon seal is a real mark of local produce, representing both taste and quality, and the seasonal treats range from venison to lamb and summer BBQ provisions. Simon has his eye on the future of the butchery and is training up new apprentices who, like him, strive for excellence.”
Highly Commended: North Acomb Farm Shop, North Acomb Farm, Stocksfield, Northumberland, NE43 7UF, 01661 843181, [email protected], www.northacombfarmshop.com
Start Up Champion
The Kitchen Garden at Meldon Park, Meldon Park, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 3SW, 016707 72321 [email protected] www.meldonpark.co.uk
Ann-Marie says: “Emily has made a great success story from difficult beginnings. The walled garden itself is a beautiful spot and the café and gift shop enhance it in a very sympathetic way, supporting local producers and suppliers and providing a really attractive destination with a lovely menu. Emily is involved in local charities, showing the total support her business gives to the surrounding area. This is an impressive start-up that I am very proud to put before the national judging panel.”
Highly Commended: Zen Baker, Foundry Farm, Bellingham, Hexham, Northumberland, NE48 2DA, www.zenbaker.co.uk/ Twitter: @zenbaker