The Countryside Alliance Awards were handed out at a Parliamentary reception in London on 18th March 2009. The Awards, nicknamed “The Rural Oscars,” honour the countryside through the people who work so hard to preserve its communities, traditions and enterprise.
Countryside Alliance Board Member Baroness Golding and Chief Executive Simon Hart presided over the House of Lords reception which was attended by regional award winners and Parliamentarians keen to congratulate rural Britain’s best. The Countryside Alliance Awards run over five categories and also presented on the day were the inaugural Countryside Alliance Political Awards, honouring rural-minded politicians.
Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Simon Hart, who chairs the national judging panel, introduces this year’s winners:
Local Food Award: Newlyns Farm, North Warnborough, Hook, Hampshire, www.newlyns-farmshop.co.uk/ 01256 704128. “A family run farm, farm shop, cookery school, community hub and charitable fundraiser, Newlyns is straight out of the top drawer and Hampshire is lucky to have it. The commitment to top quality produce is total, and it’s impossible to list how much this family does for farming and for its community, and all with a great sense of enjoyment, which is as it should be.”
Highly Commended: Llwynhelyg Farm Shop, Ceredigion www.llwynhelygfarmshop.co.uk/ 01239 811 079
Post Office/Village Shop Award – Morgan’s Newsagents and Post Office, Llangadog, Carmarthenshire 01550 777697. “Win Morgan has been the Kate Winslet of this competition for several years now – many nominations and never quite the big win. Well here it is, and it couldn’t be more deserved. As well as fighting for the survival of the Post Office and operating an outstanding village shop Win and husband Richard are the centre of this isolated community, drawing people of all ages together with their great warmth. This award is as much for the personalities behind the counter as for the vital services they provide, and I’m sure the party Llangadog is going to throw to celebrate this award bears testament to how highly the village regards the Morgans.”
Highly Commended: The Shop@Stanwick, Northamptonshire www.theshopatstanwick.co.uk 01933 622055
Traditional Business Award: Wellington Carriage Company, Telford, Shropshire 01952 242495. “The Wellington Carriage Company is an incredible jewel of traditional skill and craftsmanship, hidden in a small corner of Shropshire. Philip Holder's 40-year-old business centres around building bespoke carriages out of English produce for his clients. Philip is a Master Wheelwright and a Yeoman to the Worshipful Company of Wheelwrights as well as a very experienced coachman. There can be few more traditional businesses than this- and this quiet, talented and humble man deserves recognition.”
Highly Commended: Lains Shooting School, Andover, Hampshire, 01264 889467www.lainsshootingschool.co.uk
Rural Enterprise Award: Loch Visions, Kilchrenan, Argyll, www.lochvisions.co.uk/ 01866 833272: ”Philip Price has shown a true enterprising spirit by setting up a photography business in an isolated part of the beautiful Scottish countryside. Philip is supporting the local environment and community by employing local people and serving local produce, and he is also unlocking the full tourist potential for the area by enabling tourists to really experience the countryside close up. This is a remarkable achievement for this young and enterprising character and I feel sure he will go from strength to strength.”
Highly Commended: Ribble Valley Food Trail c/o Ribble Valley Borough Council, Clitheroe, Lancashire www.ribblevalleyfoodtrail.com/
Rural Hero: Ian Pigott – “Hertfordshire-based Ian dreamed up Farm Sunday, a national event that opens the countryside up to a whole new audience and promotes farming in an accessible way. Over 400 farms held events on the third annual Farm Sunday on 1st June 2008, and Ian’s simple of idea of getting farmers to “recognise the importance and significance of reconnecting with the consumer” has fast become a summer staple.”
Countryside Alliance Political Awards
The Grassroots Award for community campaigning – Cllr Heather Kidd, South Shropshire District Council, Shropshire. This Liberal Democrat Councillor is honoured for her extensive work locally and nationally for rural housing. She has worked for the Rural Housing Commission and on all recent national reviews. She has also campaigned extensively on rural bus services, saving post offices and small rural schools.
The Westminster Award for bringing the countryside to Parliament – Bill Wiggin, MP for Leominster, Herefordshire. Bill has a phenomenal track-record of serving the countryside through his work at Westminster. As a constituency MP and breeder of Hereford cattle, Bill has worked tirelessly on behalf of his constituents especially those who were affected by Foot and Mouth and now bovine TB. Through his work on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, his chairmanship of the All-Party Parliamentary Cider Group and his role as Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Bill has championed the interests of our farmers and producers at the highest levels in Westminster.