Welcome to the website of the Countryside Alliance Awards, the Countryside Alliance's unique annual celebration of rural life, produce and communities. Nicknamed "The Rural Oscars" these awards are broad in scope, highly coveted and a great morale boost to those in the running. The Countryside Alliance is the leading voice of rural Britain, and our Awards complement our wide ranging support and promotion of rural life.
The Countryside Alliance Awards started life in 2005 as the Best Rural Retailer competition. They were borne of a need to support and promote rural communities and to acknowledge the efforts of thousands of unsung heroes who routinely go above and beyond the call of duty for their communities. The Countryside Alliance had long felt the "doom and gloom" tales of rural decline about dwindling services, a collapsing farming sector and the death of village life did not accurately reflect the spirit of rural people and their desire to protect our landscapes, heritage and communities for future generations.
The Countryside Alliance Awards took over where the Retailer competition left off, broadening the categories to include heroes who are not necessarily retailers. The Awards are simple: they are nomination led, so you tell us who you want to nominate in which category and what makes your choice so special. If you make your case passionately enough that person, shop, business or community group could be on the way to regional, or maybe even national, glory. The feelgood factor this competition has already generated is immense, and it continues to go from strength to strength.
The categories are as follows:
Local Food Award, supported by Defra
Daily Telegraph Village Shop/ PO Award
The Awards begin locally, across ten areas:
Scotland (run as the Scottish Countryside Alliance Awards)
East of England
The 2013 Awards will open to public nomination in late summer. Nominations will be made until November, whereupon regional finalists will be selected and judged. Regional finalists will be declared for each category in each region in early 2014. They will then be judged and regional winners announced. Those regional winners then 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.
Each region boasts its own judging panel, chaired by the Countryside Alliance's regional directors. The overall Champions are chosen by a special panel which is chaired by Countryside Alliance Executive Chairman Barney White-Spunner and also includes the Secretary of State for Defra, Owen Paterson MP, celebrated cook, author and countrywoman Clarissa Dickson Wright, member of the Worshipful Company of Butchers, David Lidgate, the Daily Telegraph's Philip Johnston, Farmers Guardian Editor Emma Penny and Hunter Boot's Chris Dewbury.
Watch our short film about the Chatsworth Estate, who won our first ever Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. The Lifetime Achievement Award is in the gift of the judges and to date has only been awarded once.