Rural businesses celebrated at the House of Lords by Countryside Alliance

The Countryside Alliance’s annual awards were held again at the House of Lords and are, in their 9th year, dubbing themselves the ‘Rural Oscars’. This year there was a special ‘Clarissa Dickson Wright Award’ presented in memory of the TV cook and rural campaigner. Created to recognise strong animal husbandry, support slow and artisan food and protect farming heritage the inaugural prize went to Peter and Christine Gott of Sillfield Farm in the Lake District and sell meat from rare breeds and wild boar. Clarissa had chosen the winer before her death this year.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson was there to support the awards and stressed “rural businesses… are the backbone of rural life and it is vital that we do all we can to allow these businesses to compete and thrive.”

Other winners, announced by countryside Alliance chairman Kate Hoey, MP can be found below.

BUTCHER: H Weatherhead & Sons Butchers, Yorkshire

Judge’s comments: “Last year’s Yorkshire Champions return bigger and better than ever. Now with Q Guild status (the hallmark of the quality butcher) Weatherhead’s is soon to open a new shop nearby, giving more people the opportunity to try their phenomenal produce. The Weatherheads have been Pateley Bridge butchers for generations and have adapted and survived while remaining relevant and busy on the modern high street. A visit to their farm shows the commitment to animal welfare, traceability and taste – all things consumers should insist upon. The personal charisma of Andrew Weatherhead and his young daughter’s enthusiasm for farming mean the Weatherheads of Pateley Bridge are a brand to be reckoned with.”

 LOCAL FOOD: Our Cow Molly, Dungworth, South Yorkshire

Judge’s comments: “Just visiting this bustling dairy farm puts a smile on your face, and that’s before you’ve even tasted the ice-cream. With the dairy industry in freefall the Andrew family redoubled its efforts to go the distance for the next generation – a gutsy move that has paid off. Eddie Andrew’s energy and commitment is richly deserving of this award.”

VILLAGE SHOP/POST OFFICE: Chalke Valley Stores, Wiltshire

Judge’s comments: “One of the nominations for Chalke Valley described it as “indispensable” and my fellow judge described her visit as “an absolute pleasure”.  This is such a great story with so many facets that you hardly know where to start, it is simply incredible. This community has really turned its fortunes around with this shop and everyone involved deserves national recognition.”

START-UP: Spuds and Berries, Yorkshire

Judge’s comments: “Laura Wass is still only 23, and having started up a pick-your-own on part of her parents’ farm, two years on she presides over a busy farm shop and extensive restaurant serving the best of Yorkshire produce. Laura is a no-nonsense businesswoman who acknowledges that being young and female in the farming industry often brings its own problems, but she has stayed focused on her mission of providing great produce and a meeting place for local people. The restaurant has only been open since November 2013 and already has wedding bookings for the year, which is a tribute to Laura’s marketing and business skills. With plans to extend the PYO and plant an orchard it is clear that Laura is a farming force for the future.”


A special Rural Hero award was also presented to May Stocks who runs the Highgate Farm Shop on the Pennine Way at Heptonstall, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Her shop, known as the Aladdin’s Cave, stocks everything for the weary walker and local alike and her support for her local community, delivering papers and provisions and helping the sick and elderly, is what makes her a rural hero in our judges’ eyes.