The winners of the Rural Business Awards were announced at a glittering ceremony on 5 October compered by Jules Hudson of BBC Escape to the Country fame.
Champion of Champions & Best Rural Tourism Business went to Hoe Grange Holidays, based in Matlock, Derbyshire, and a variety of other businesses were recognised including Divoky Riding School, which is featured in the latest edition of Diversify Now.
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 hardworking businesses have been honoured.”
“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 a hearty congratulations to those who were successful in the awards, and to thank all those who entered and shared their successes, and wish them the very best for the future.”
The RBAs are the brainchild of Leicestershire businesswomen Anna Price and Jemma Clifford, who wanted to showcase the wealth of entrepreneurial talent in rural areas of Britain – a sector of the economy they felt was all-too-often overlooked in favour of large city-based firms.
The awards are organised by rural businesses for rural businesses and judged by people who understand the rural sector, which is growing rapidly and employs in excess of 3.4 million people in more than 600,000 businesses across the UK.
This year’s awards saw nearly three times as many entries as in 2016, with businesses from 52 counties in the UK sending in their applications. They were split into 13 categories with five finalists in each, of which one winner, one runner-up and three highly commended prizes were awarded, plus an overall champion of champions. The awards this year showed particularly strong representation from Yorkshire and Lancashire, and the most popular categories were tourism and diversification.
Awards co-founder Anna Price said: “We’ve seen some fabulous entries in our professional services category but Appetite Me stood out for the way it was fulfilling a real need in the rural community. Financial times have been tough for many farms and the ability to recognise and diversify assets can be key to ensuring long-term survival.
“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.”
CLA Director General Helen Woolley said: “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!”
This year’s glittering awards ceremony was held at Denbies Wine Estates in Surrey. Next year’s awards will be open for entries in November 2017. To find out more, visit www.ruralbusinessawards.co.uk