Hundreds of rural businesses from across the UK were nominated for this year’s Rural Business Awards, with 2017 a record year for entries.
Yorkshire saw the most success with businesses winning, coming runners up and gaining high commendations, followed by Devon, County Down, Shropshire and West Sussex
Winners include an engineering company supporting missions in space and war zones; a dairy-farm offering accessible holidays; and a fruit and vegetable social enterprise helping ex-offenders in an ex-mining village
The ceremony was held at the Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, Surrey, and attendees were hosted by Escape to the Country’s Jules Hudson, 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.
Doug Gurr, UK country manager at Amazon, said: “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.”
“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.”
Yorkshire-based businesses won the most awards and accounted for almost 10% of the awards, followed by Devon, County Down, Shropshire and West Sussex based businesses, which each gained four awards.
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.
Commenting on their awards success, David Brown, owner of 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.”
Rural Affairs Minister, Lord Gardiner said: “Farm shops, food producers and rural start-ups are a vital part of the UK’s economy, generating over £230 billion every year.
“It is fantastic to see the breadth of talent on display across our rural communities and I am delighted so many hard working businesses have been honoured.”