The quest to find Britain’s top rural retailer is gathering pace, with nearly 200 entries submitted already in this new competition.

Farmers Weekly has joined forces with the Countryside Alliance and British Food Fortnight to seek out the nation’s Best Rural Retailer 2005.

Welcoming the flood of entries from Cornwall to Northumberland and North Wales to Suffolk, Simon Hart, Countryside Alliance chief executive, said: “We are already getting a picture of how important local retailers are to people in their communities.

A diverse range of retailers has been nominated including post offices, butchers, farm shops, game dealers, delicatessens, PYOs and village stores.”

The award aims to recognise the diversity of local produce and to highlight the contribution of rural retailers in maintaining sustainable communities.

Any independent local food retailer is eligible for nomination in this competition.

Twelve regional judging panels, each headed by a CA regional director, will select a winner for their region to be announced in November.

Regional winners will be judged by a national panel which will select a national winner to be announced at a reception at the Houses of Parliament early next year.

Everyone who nominates a retailer will be entered into a free prize draw to win a day for four at a local Countryside Alliance race day.

So, if your village shop, post office or butcher flies the flag for British produce and the local community, here’s your chance to help them win the recognition they deserve.