Scotland’s Champions in the 2013 Countryside Alliance Rural Awards (aka the Rural Oscars) were announced at a Holyrood reception on 4th March. Tavish Scott MSP handed out the coveted awards to four inspiring Scottish businesses. Scotland’s winners will now go forward to the grand final, which will be held at the Houses of Parliament in April 2014, attended by supportive Parliamentarians and media. At this final, the overall Champions, one in each category, will be declared.
The Awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage through our small hard-working businesses. Finalists from across the country were in Edinburgh for the reception, to celebrate reaching the final and to hear if they had triumphed. These are the eighth annual Awards which have quickly become the rural business award to win. The lucky winners, who have triumphed from a fiercely competitive Scottish final, now go on to represent Scotland at the UK finals at Parliament in Westminster on 30th April.
Scottish Countryside Alliance Director Jamie Stewart announced the winners as follows:
Local Food Champion
Ardross Farm Shop
Jamie comments: "On paper this should be one of the easiest categories, shouldn’t it? We can all judge good local food with some authority can’t we?
"I have to say that in the end it came down to the glowing reports from both the customer nominations and the judges who visited and experienced the service first hand.
"Our Scottish Champion Local Food for 2013, Ardross Farm Shop offers some of Scotland's finest foods including fresh local produce from the surrounding farms and local artisan producers. Re-inventing themselves from a traditional farm the driving forces behind this initiative helped develop products and designs for other start up suppliers and using their market research and product testing skills offered start-up companies a qualified and focussed approach to launching their products. They then of course used very keen entrepreneurial skills to became their biggest clients offering them a retail outlet."
Village Shop/ Post Office Champion
Gargunnock Village Store
Jamie says: "The Scottish Champion Village Shop-Post Office winners Gargunnock Village Store showed a great desire to breathe life back into a community that had all but given up on itself.
"Like many other finalists, the owners have shown a commitment to the community and are doing so much more than simply serving newspapers, food or handling post. Prescriptions, cooking fuel and all manner of things are delivered to all manner of people in all manner of places…However the defining difference was the spirit shown by the proprietor to run the only shop in a small community far enough away from nearby towns and cities to be a necessity but not so far that they can rest on their laurels. It has to be more than just a shop and it certainly is."
Highly Commended: Kincardine O'Neil Village Shop and Post Office, 40 North Deeside Road, Kincardine O'Neil, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, AB34 5AA, 01339884201
Jamie comments: "If I have given the impression that the judging for the Scottish Countryside Rural awards had been difficult, I was being economical with the truth, it has been incredibly difficult and as we reach the butchers category, it just got harder
"With four exceptional butchers from across Scotland, all at the top of their game and playing a key role within their respected communities; the judges found this category more difficult than the others.
"The winning butcher was a business that really did go that extra mile. Not only do they have produce sourced from the local farming and crofting community, and make all manner of pies, pickles and puddings, they took steps to protect the providence of their local herd status and aided by supporting business took over the operation of the local abattoir ensuring that local stock didn’t have to leave the island to be slaughtered.
"Orkney beef is derived from cattle born and reared in the Orkney isles and which were slaughtered and dressed in Orkney."
Colstoun Cookery School
Colstoun Stables Cottages
EH41 4PA 01620 822922
Jamie comments: "Our Scottish Champions, have redefined the traditional take on cookery schools. The warm farmhouse kitchen and wide variety of game and local produce prevails but gone are the floral tabards and the Rosie cheeked damsels; more two young men than two fat ladies…
"Colstoun cookery school has certainly achieved the criteria but more than this, the owners have a vision and enthusiasm that was hard to match. The judges were impressed with the detailed application and were even more so during the site visit. The attention to detail in creating a place where local and visiting people can explore their interest in food the countryside and countryside practises is to be admired."
Highly Commended: Muircot Farm Shop, Coalsnaughton, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, FK13 6LS, 01259 750886, www.muircot-farmshop.co.uk
Jamie says: "If you Google "hero" you will read a variety of definitions but in essence a hero (masculine) or (feminine) refers to characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self-sacrifice—that is, heroism—
"Carol Begg can most certainly be described as such a character. She is committed to the welfare of all dogs that come into her care, and endeavours to make a positive contribution to their lives, no matter what their circumstances. She also pride ourselves in getting people actively involved in gundog training which helps hugely in stimulating working dogs, making a happier life for the dogs and their owners.
"And as true heroes do she decries her own commitment whilst praising those who volunteer their time."