The lucky winners will go on to represent the region at the UK & Ireland finals at Parliament in Westminster on 13th March. Regional Director Sara Rutherford and her judging team introduce the winners:
Local Food – Hillers Farm Shop, Dunnington, Alcester, Warwickshire http://www.hillers.co.uk 01789 772771 @HillersFarmShop
“This is a farm shop with an extensive range of goods including local seasonal produce, cheese, bakery goods and specialist groceries. Many of their own products are produced in the kitchens & produce is also grown/ reared on the 65 acre farm. Hillers Fish Shop is in a brand new barn conversion along with Ragley Estate Meats (including Ragley game from the estate shoot) which is all part of a recent re-development. Also on site and part of the Hiller business is The Garden Café, which now has an evening bistro on a Friday & Saturday night which is usually teeming and booking is recommended; Hillers Gifts and Interiors and The Hiller Garden. A bird hide is a big attraction where customers can watch fallow and roe deer, Muntjac and many species of birds including ravens, nuthatches and woodpeckers. Hillers is proud to have so many local growers and suppliers. 20 key growers are all within an 8 mile radius. With the current food-chain scandal shopping locally is the only answer – traceability, animal welfare and labelling are all vital and you know exactly what you are getting. Supporting local producers has never been more important and has always made perfect sense. The Ragley Estate will once again host the CLA Game Fair this year, and I would urge you to make sure you try some Hillers produce at the show as it really is first class. Hillers never stands still – the team is constantly evolving and changing the business, adding to it. They just love the place and it is clear that the produce and the delight it brings to loyal customers generates huge satisfaction. Rarely will you see such pride on display!”
Highly Commended: Battlefield 1403 Farm Shop, Battlefield, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY4 3DB http://battlefield1403.com 01939 210 905
Village Shop / Post Office category
Almondsbury Community Shop, Almondsbury, South Gloucestershire http://www.almondsburycommunityshop.org.uk/ 01454 202412
“This is a community shop established in 2009 as an Industrial & Provident Society for the benefit of the community. There is no finer evidence of a true community than a thriving, community-run shop, and Almondsbury really is the gold standard. This shop represents the beating heart of the community and I cannot praise it highly enough. Here you will find locals coming together to chat, you will find the local pharmacist and local MP using the shop as a base, youngsters can work to contribute to their Duke of Edinburgh Award, local produce is supported and, vitally, the shop raises funds for local good causes such as the village hall kitchen refurbishment, Almondsbury School music studio and window restoration for St Mary’s Church at Olveston. The Countryside Alliance exists to champion the countryside and it is a real pleasure to champion Almondsbury. More power to every single one of the villagers!”
“This shop is a favourite of the Countryside Alliance and the team continues to delight with its “can do” attitude, re-invention and flair. ‘the [email protected]’ was born in 2007 after Neil, Steve & Vernon purchased the tired old Post Office. Very quickly the shop was transformed into the village ‘hub’. Good old fashion customer service along with products that their customers really wanted helped create a much loved village shop. In 2011 an opportunity arose to purchase the Old School in the High Street. The Old School was a beautiful building that need much care and restoration. Due to a new village hall opening the local church couldn’t sustain the Old School and there was a real fear that the building would be closed up and not used. A new roof, windows, structural repairs along with a complete interior refurbishment took 7 months to complete. The boys wanted to ensure that their village had a real part in the restoration. No tradesman more than 5 miles away was employed on the project. Many folk from the village offered their help, from sweeping up, rubble removal to tiling bathrooms and plumbing boilers. A bright new shop, bigger post office along with a daytime coffee shop opened in April 2012. However it was evident in the planning stages of this new project the village wanted an evening and weekend venue to eat, drink and socialise. Within the Old School an evening bistro called ‘Old School Dining’ opened alongside the shop, serving local produce. The staff from the old shop grew from 6 to 23 within months, all employed from the village. No-one could foresee the popularity of the venue, Post Office footfall grew by 40%, the Bistro and Café were an instant success, good home cooked food, local ingredients and a good splash of their ‘good old customer service’ has created the ‘place to be’. The boys are to be applauded for creating a space for their community and breathing new life into the village.
JW Mettrick & Sons Butchers, Glossop, Derbyshire http://www.mettricksbutchers.co.uk/ 01457 852 239 @Mettricks
“J.W. Mettrick & Son has been operating for over 100 years, via five generations of the Mettrick family. Mettricks employs 56 local people full time. The business comprises two retail butcher shops, one online shop and a small abattoir. They have recently introduced a pop up butchers in the local town of Stalybridge at the request of the local MP, Andrew Bingham. The town had been without a butcher for over a year. This enterprise is profitable and has increased trade to other businesses by 25%. The main business is the retail of local meat. With the current horsemeat scandal the “buy local, eat local” has never been more important – traceability and a short-foodchain is key and, frankly, everyone should try some Mettricks produce so they know the benefits of these things! The abattoir is a vital part of the business as it enables local farm animals to be processed. This is especially important to farmers who are increasingly selling their meet direct to customers. One of the major achievements in recent years is linking the meat with the local environment through the peak district Environmental Quality Mark run by Peak Park. Mettricks are well established and therefore very involved in the community. They support schools with fundraising, and every year as part of National Butchers’ Week Mettricks select a different local primary school to try their hand at making sausages and pork pies. Catering students visit the abattoir and then go on to see the meat processed slaughtered.
Mettricks has been involved in supporting the High Peak Business Community with ‘Glossop Vision’, a scheme to regenerate the local town centres in the area. They have worked with the council to develop allotments for local people on unused land at the rear of the abattoir. This outfit has it all – community spirit, support for local farmers, top butchery skills and a way of keeping the High Street heritage of the butcher shop fresh and relevant.”
Highly Commended: Lambournes Butchers, Harkers Cottage, Digbeth Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, GL54 1BN http://www.lambournesbutchers.co.uk/ 01451 830630
Start up category
Forest Pig, Far Forest, Nr Kidderminster, Worcs http://www.forestpig.com/ 01299 266771 @ForestPigCharcu
“The first thing that struck me was the sheer hard work which has gone into the Levells’ home and this business. They work from dawn til dusk and Jeremy has practically single handedly converted their potato store into their new house and converted outbuildings into farrowing areas for the pigs and the food preparation facilities. This is a salami producer with an eye on community, animal welfare and the natural environment. Neither came from a farming background although Jeremy has always been connected with animals. They have a 12 acre small holding and started tinkering with sheep, chickens, pigs etc and took great interest in the pigs. Sally did a lot of research about natural habitats etc and from there they approached the Forestry Commission about allowing pigs to forage in areas of the Wyre Forest. Eventually the Commission gave them a pilot area and now they have 160 pigs in the forest. The positive environmental impact and regeneration has been amazing – I went into the forest with Jeremy and looked at areas in the forest which had been cleared of trees and basically left with scrub and rubbish and now had foxgloves, flora, fauna and saplings. The Forestry Commission are not permitted to replant where they have felled trees so the natural growth of saplings is a good thing and is a result of the pigs’ presence. The pigs go to slaughter just up the road at about a year old but that depends on their growth and they are turned into salami. They are the only British suppliers in Harrods! They also work with the local shoot to produce a game salami. I saw first-hand the great community spirit and everyone loves the pigs being in the forest.”
Highly Commended: The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club, Pennyhill Farm, School Lane, Droitwich, Worcestershire, WR9 0PH http://ladies-shooting.com/shotgun-chelsea-bun/