The Countryside Alliance Awards (aka the Rural Oscars) have celebrated their tenth anniversary at Parliament with the Environment Secretary, the Rt Hon Liz Truss MP, presenting four Champion of Champions prizes to former UK & Ireland title holders. The winners were voted for in a public vote with all previous UK and Ireland Champions competing. Over 30,000 votes were polled.
The Environment Secretary, the Rt Hon Liz Truss MP, commented: “This event is a brilliant opportunity to showcase our rural heroes who promote the best our countryside has to offer, helping to build a stronger economy.
“This year’s awards are in their tenth year and the high quality of entries shows just how much we have to celebrate. Our countryside businesses, from village shops to family run farms, are crucial to the future of our economy and make it the exciting, vibrant powerhouse it is today.
“I’m especially passionate about increasing the opportunity at every level to choose healthy, seasonal, local produce. That’s why we back the Local Food award and this year’s winner, Oliver Paul from Suffolk Food Hall, is doing fantastic work encouraging more people to eat locally and support our farmers.
“We’re also unlocking the huge potential for growth in the countryside through supporting rural businesses, better transport links and speedier broadband, so that more entrepreneurs can make the most of every opportunity available to them.”
The Awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage through our small hard-working businesses. They have in their ten years of operation become the definitive rural business award to win. Thousands of businesses have been nominated during the 10 years of the Awards, with over 35,000 public nominations recommending them for honours.
The 10th anniversary Awards Champion of Champions have been crowned in each of four categories. Countryside Alliance Executive Chairman Barney White-Spunner introduced the winners at a packed Parliamentary reception in the House of Lords:
Local Food Champion of Champions - Suffolk Food Hall
Oliver Paul, Suffolk Food Hall, Wherstead, Ipswich, Suffolk 01473 786610 www.suffolkfoodhall.co.uk Email: [email protected] - Twitter: @suffolkfoodhall
Barney White-Spunner told the reception: “I am delighted to Award the special Local Food Champion of Champions plaque to the team from Suffolk Food Hall. Set up by farmers for farmers, all the produce is sourced from as near to the enterprise as possible. The shop is a converted cattle shed where produce from the owners’ farm is sold alongside that of a huge range of local producers. Suffolk Food Hall also houses a restaurant, butcher, bakery, wine merchant, café, fishmongers, deli and garden centre.”
Photo l-r Gemma Melton of Suffolk Food Hall, Environment Secretary Liz Truss MP, Oliver Paul of Suffolk Food Hall and Abby Bumstead of Suffolk Food Hall
Village Shop/ Post Office Champion of Champions - Ludwell Stores, Wiltshire
Phil and Jo James, Ludwell Stores and Post Office, Ludwell, Shaftesbury, Wiltshire, 01747 828227 http://ludwellstores.co.uk Twitter: @LudwellStores
Barney White-Spunner told the reception: “I am thrilled to declare that the winners of the Village Shop/ Post Office Champion of Champions plaque are Phil and Jo James, who run Ludwell Village Stores in Wiltshire. Phil and Jo run far more than just a village shop – it is an outlet for local artists, runs an oil buying group and a Post Office counter and it also boasts 4,000 lines of stock, including far more local produce than any supermarket.”
Photo l-r Jo James from Ludwell Stores, Environment Secretary Liz Truss MP, Phil James of Ludwell Stores
Enterprise Champion of Champions - Park Hill Farm, Shropshire
Pat and John Pimlott, Park Hill Farm, Hales, Market Drayton, Shropshire 01630 652178 www.parkhillfarm.co.uk Twitter: @ppimlott
Barney White-Spunner said: “I am pleased to announce that the Enterprise Champion of Champions are Park Hill Farm, the family run farm, farm shop and outdoor classroom. Not only do Pat and John raise British breeds of beef and pork which they sell direct from their shop and at farmers markets, the farm has been developed over the last four years alongside a local Children's University and the Sensory Trust to provide a safe visitor experience for all age groups and abilities. The Pimlotts encourage schools, clubs, societies and interest groups to use the farm as an educational resource.”
Photo l-r Amelia Pimlott of Park Hill Farm, Environment Secretary Liz Truss MP, John Pimlott and Pat Pimlott, owners of Park Hill Farm
Traditional Business Champion of Champions - Nolan's of Kilcullen, Co. Kildare
James and Emma Nolan, Nolan’s of Kilcullen, Kilcullen, Co. Kildare 045 481229 http://nolansofkilcullen.com @EmmaNolan2012
Barney White-Spunner told the reception: “The postbag for this category was the biggest of the lot so it is very clear how loved and valued these businesses are. However, there is one clear winner and I am delighted to be able to tell you that our Traditional Business Champion of Champions is Nolan’s of Kilcullen, the family business that began trading in 1886 and goes from strength to strength. With an on-site abattoir which also benefits local farmers, the traceability, quality and taste of the produce on offer at Nolan’s is breath-taking.”
Photo l-r Irish Agricultural Attache Mary McCarthy, Environment Secretary Liz Truss MP, James Nolan, Emma Nolan
The Clarissa Dickson Wright Award - Peelham Farm, Berwickshire
Denise and Chris Walton, Peelham Farm, Foulden, Berwickshire, TD15 1UG. www.peelham.co.uk/. Tel 01890 781328
“The 2015 Clarissa Dickson Wright Award winners have combined farming heritage, rare breeds and organic production into an enterprise that not only produces high quality food, but is environmentally sustainable and recognises that the key to the future of farming is educating consumers, not preaching at them.” Read the full citation here.
Pictured l-r Lord Walton of Detchant, Chris Walton of Peelham Farm, Environment Secretary Liz Truss MP, Denise Daly-Walton of Peelham Farm, Angus Walton of Peelham Farm, Peter Gott of Sillfield Farm in Cumbria (the inaugural winner of this Award and part of the "Clarissa committee" to take our friend's legacy forward.)
General email: [email protected]
The Awards hotline is: 0207 840 9340
Our Welsh Champion of Champions will be announced at a reception at Cardiff Bay on 22nd April.
Nominations for the 2015 Countryside Alliance Awards will open in Autumn 2015.
Those in the running for our one-off, public, vote-led competition are listed below, with links. Each has been a UK Champion from our 10 year lifetime.
Weetons of Harrogate, N Yorkshire, @Weetons
Newlyns Farm Shop, Hampshire @newlynsfarm
Beadlam Grange Farm Shop & Tea Room, N Yorkshire, @beadlamgrange
Farrington’s, Somerset, @farringtonshop
Suffolk Food Hall, Suffolk, @suffolkfoodhall WINNER
Piper's Farm, Devon, @pipersfarm
Our Cow Molly, Yorkshire, @OurCowMolly
Village Shop/ Post Office category
Longframlington Village Shop, Northumberland
Nettleton Stores, Wiltshire
Morgan’s Newsagents, Carmarthenshire
Feckenham Community Shop, Worcestershire
Yarpole Village Shop, Herefordshire
Ludwell Stores, Dorset, @LudwellStores WINNER
Orford General Store, Suffolk
Chalke Valley Stores, Wiltshire, @chalkevalleyhub
Langthorne's Buffalo, N Yorkshire
Jolly Farmers, Surrey, @jollyfarmers
Loch Visions, Argyllshire, @Lochvisions
Machars Movies, Wigtownshire (village Twitter account is @IsleofWhithorn)
Growing Well, Cumbria, @GrowingWell
Park Hill Farm, Shropshire WINNER
Broughton Hall, N Yorkshire, @Broughton_Hall
Gower Brewery, Swansea, @GowerBrewery
Spuds & Berries, N Yorkshire, @spudsandberries
Alexander James of Pendlebury, Manchester, @AJofPendlebury
Andrew Rees & Sons Butcher, Pembrokeshire, @ReesButchers
Wellington Carriage Co, Telford
SW Doughty Family Butcher, Kent, @SWDoughty
Nolan's of Kilcullen, Co Kildare, @EmmaNolan2012 WINNER
JW Mettrick & Son Ltd, Derbyshire, @Mettricks
H Weatherhead & Sons Butchers, N Yorkshire, @weatherheadmeat