Countryside Alliance Awards



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2011 South East Champions

The South East’s rural Champions of 2011 have been revealed in the Countryside Alliance Awards. The strong line up of local businesses will now head to the House of Lords in March to hear if they have scooped a national title. 

The Countryside Alliance Awards, nicknamed the ‘Rural Oscars’, are now in their seventh year of celebrating the characters, skills, traditions and enterprise of the countryside through the people who work so hard to make it tick. The Awards are public-nomination led, meaning each business is put forward by a supportive customer. Judging of a shortlist of businesses has now taken place and a regional winner declared in each category. The South East’s winners for 2011 are introduced by Michelle Nudds, CA Regional Director for the South East:

Food category 

Foxbury Farm Shop, Brize Norton, Oxfordshire 01993 867385 Michelle says: “Previous national Champions, Foxbury have not stood still or let the grass grow and here they are again representing the best of Oxfordshire. Colin and his team are evangelical about their local produce, which has a loyal following, and the working farm is also used to great effect as a giant classroom for open days (including Bob & Marley the hens). Foxbury has expanded in recent years – there is a 16m butchery counter and a tearoom too so a visit to Foxbury is a wonderful experience. Colin and his team’s passion for reconnecting people with our countryside is something the Countryside Alliance is proud to support – they know well that if kids don’t know about the countryside, they won’t care. And as a visit to Foxbury shows, there is so much to care about, and such good things to eat!”   

Village Shop/ Post Office 

Kirdford Village Store, Kirdford, West Sussex, 01403 820815, Michelle says: “Kirdford is community owned and managed and has only been open for 18 months, but has made a serious impact. Local produce, a tea room, an art wall, Post Office, internet, Kirdford is a haven for the community. One nomination said simply that the shop has put the heart into the village while another enthused that the local book club now has somewhere to meet. Village shops are always so much more than the sum of their parts – produce, facilities, all of that is vital, but what matters most is people, and Kirdford’s focus is spot on.”

Enterprise category

The Medicine Garden, Cobham, Surrey 01932 589536 Michelle says: “What a great, great idea, this is a true enterprise. A Victorian walled garden has been given a new lease of life as a space for local residents to chill out or enjoy one of the many events held there such as Jazz on the Lawn. Also on site is a café, farm shop and treatment room offering osteopathy and reflexology. I was impressed by the way the Medicine Garden offers so many things at once, but at its core is owner Paul’s “idea of a space of beauty, a place of ‘good medicine’, where people could come and be inspired, relax, play and take some ‘good medicine’ home with them.” What a wonderful use of the countryside, I commend the Medicine Garden to the national judging panel.”

Butcher category

Vicars Game, Ashampstead, Newbury, Berkshire 01635 579662 Michelle says: “Last year’s winners return triumphant, they just can’t be topped! Vicars is an incredible outfit which has been going for over 100 years. Its output is dazzling, with over 50 types of sausage made in quantity – the team regularly makes 2 tonnes per day. Vicars supports local farmers and shoots, with one nomination praising their support for British game. Game’s popularity is certainly on the rise and Vicars has been leading the charge – they process around 200,000 pheasants and partridges each season, making the most of nature’s harvest. The tempting and diverse range of produce on display, from home made pies to bacon cured on site, will bring a smile to the face of anyone who wants to support our farmers and producers and understands that local is by far and away the best. Congratulations to the team at Vicars led by the experienced Hayward brothers, this win is richly deserved.”Commended: John Murray and Son, Loxwood, Billingshurst, West Sussex, 01403 752859Commended: Outwood Butchers, Outwood, Surrey 01342 842058