Rural Business Awards Winners Announced

Rural businesses are celebrating today following last night’s Rural Business Awards Ceremony, held at the Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, Surrey. Attendees were hosted by Jules Hudson, best-known as the leading face of the BBC’s rural property flagship Escape to the Country, and also a keen countryman, craftsman, archaeologist and historian.

Following hundreds of entrants and a competitive shortlist process, a “Champion of Champions” and thirteen category winners were announced for a range of sectors, from manufacturing to professional services and sport to tourism, and for a variety of attributes, including ‘Employer of the Year’ and ‘Best Rural Start-Up’.

The awards, founded by countryside based business-women, Jemma Clifford and Anna Price, are backed by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and Amazon, and judged by an independent panel, drawn from the rural business sector, rural public sector agencies and rural charitable organisations.

“The stories of these successful rural businesses are incredibly inspiring and just go to show the immense talent that exists at the heart of our rural communities in the UK,” said Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon. “I would like to extend hearty congratulations to those who were successful in the awards, and to thank all those who entered and shared their successes. I wish them the very best for the future.”

Outstanding Rural Diversification Project was awarded to T.Mellor and Son (Wold Top Brewery), based in Driffield, East Riding of Yorkshire

Yorkshire based businesses accounted for almost ten percent of the awards, for winners, runners up and high commendations, followed by Devon, County Down, Shropshire and West Sussex based businesses, which each gained four awards. The Champion of Champions, however, came from Derbyshire.

Scooping the coveted overall “Champion of Champions” award as well as the hard-fought “Best Rural Tourism Business” Award was Hoe Grange Holidays, based in Derbyshire’s Peak District. A working farm that had to curtail its dairy production, Hoe Grange Holidays prides itself on being accessible and eco-friendly, having identified a lack of suitable holiday accommodation for those with mobility challenges or visual impairments.

Commenting on their awards success, David Brown, Owner, Hoe Grange Holidays said, “We started out as dairy farmers but spotted an opportunity to diversify our business and offer a positive experience for people to enjoy in the Derbyshire countryside. To have our success acknowledged at the Rural Business Awards is testament to all our hard work and to the people who have supported us along the way. We love to promote other rural businesses and use sustainable, economically friendly materials so we see the Rural Business Awards as the ultimate recognition for rural enterprises all over the country. It’s obviously a great honour to be named as Champion of Champions at this year’s ceremony and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for our business.”

Helen Woolley, Director General, CLA commented: “The CLA is delighted to partner with the Rural Business Awards to highlight the vital contribution our rural areas make to the wider economy. It was a great pleasure for me to be a part of the judging panel to see the passion for rural business demonstrated by the finalists. My congratulations go to all the winners who have shown great expertise in their field and have a real understanding of how they fit into the rural economy as a whole. I urge all our winners to keep flying the flag for rural business!”

Jemma Clifford, who co-founded the RBAs, alongside Anna Price, said: “The Rural Business Awards give rural enterprises of all sizes the opportunity to showcase their success and the contribution they are making to our thriving rural economy – just the firms that have entered in 2017 have combined turnovers well in excess of £70m. Hundreds of companies enter the RBAs each year and the finals illustrate the best businesses the countryside has to offer in each of the 13 categories.”