Countryside Alliance Awards



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2011 North East Champions

The North East’s rural Champions of 2011 have been revealed in the Countryside Alliance Awards. The strong line up of businesses will now head to the House of Lords in March to hear if they have scooped a national title. 

The Countryside Alliance Awards, nicknamed the ‘Rural Oscars’, are now in their seventh year of celebrating the characters, skills, traditions and enterprise of the countryside through the people who work so hard to make it tick. The Awards are public-nomination led, meaning each business is put forward by a supportive customer. Judging of a shortlist of businesses has now taken place and a regional winner declared in each category. The North East’s winners for 2011 are introduced by Simon Hamlyn, CA Regional Director for the North of England:

Local Food category North East Champion: Blagdon Farm Shop, Blagdon, Northumberland, 01670 789924 Simon says: “Blagdon is a model of how a farm shop should be: a converted farm building brimming with local produce, the mantra here is “own produce, local produce then the best of the rest”. Own produce such as poultry, game, eggs and home baked pies and quiches are given the “Blagdon seal”, a quality guarantee, and the in-house butchery counter team is always on hand to advise and help with different cuts and game. Joanne and the team have a clear focus: quality local produce and giving customers access to the best that Northumberland has to offer. This is a really inspired and friendly outfit, they very much deserve this win.”

Highly Commended: Carroll's Heritage Potatoes, Cornhill on Tweed, Northumberland, 01890 883060 

The Daily Telegraph Village Shop/ Post Office category North East Champion: Humshaugh Village Shop, Humshaugh, Hexham, Northumberland 01434 681258 Simon says: “This shop won last year and is still pushing the boundaries of what a community enterprise can do. There are plans afoot to buy an orchard and some beehives in order to supply the village with apple juice, cider and honey, meaning food yards not food miles. Humshaugh is exceptionally community minded – I don’t know of another shop which uses its profits to give direct support to local groups and projects – the pre-school, the village youth theatre group and a local wildlife project have all benefited from this innovative approach. The team at Humshaugh has only been in charge since November 2009 but has already made a huge difference to the village – what a wonderful shop.”

Highly Commended: Belsay Village Shop, Belsay, Northumberland, 01661 881207

Enterprise category North East Champion: Down at the Farm, Houghton le Spring, County Durham, 0191 584 1873 Simon says: “Here is a feel-good enterprise with a huge heart. Will and Catherine Weightman have turned their farm into a wildlife attraction that has recently achieved zoo status. With deer, donkeys, reindeer, alpacas and more, local children can get close to wildlife and find out about the natural world. Will and Catherine are very driven, and the mission is to reconnect the younger generation with our countryside. The Countryside Alliance couldn’t be more in agreement – what a vital mission. We are proud to support this enterprise and wish there could be a Down at the Farm near every school.”

Highly Commended: The Doddington Dairy, North Doddington, Wooler, Northumberland 01668 283010 

Butcher category North East Champion: Robinson’s, Wingate, Co Durham 01429 838204 Simon says: “This butcher is a real jewel – locally sourced meat is proudly displayed in a new, light and attractive shop which now has its own café as a popular meeting place in Wingate, so you can get local meat from farmers around the county and also locally produced cakes and pastries. The Robinson family is well known for being an integral part of the community which supports local charities and runs social events at the shop. Robinson’s also still run a small abattoir – sadly an increasingly rare resource, but much appreciated by the farming community. The commitment to farming, animal welfare and, more broadly, the local community, is admirable and Robinson’s are worthy winners.”

Highly Commended: R Green & Son Family Butcher, Longframlington, Morpeth, Northumberland, 01665 570 253