The search has begun to find Britain’s Best Rural Retailer

The competition, organised by the Countryside Alliance with support from Farmers Weekly, aims to showcase the achievement of country retailers who promote local food and help to sustain local communities.

CA chief executive Simon Hart said: “Our aim is to celebrate people. The alliance exists to champion the diversity and colour of rural life and this competition is a great platform from which to do that.

“Retailers form the centre of rural communities and we are delighted to bring their passion and dedication to national attention.”

There are four categories: Best Local Food Retailer, Best Village Shop/Post Office, Best Diversification and Best Traditional Skills, sponsored by the Daily Telegraph.

A regional winner will be appointed in each category. Overall national winners in each category will be announced at a House of Lords reception.

The judging panel will consist of Zac Goldsmith of The Ecologist, Dr Stuart Burgess of the Commission for Rural Communities, Simon Heffer of the Daily Telegraph, Alexia Robinson of British Food Fortnight and Farmers Weekly’s deputy editor Mike Stones.

Last year’s winner was city oil trader turned retail entrepreneur Andrew Loftus of Harrogate grocers Weeton’s.

Nominations can be made from today at www.bestruralretailer. co.uk until 27 October. For more information telephone the Countryside Alliance on 020 7840 9200.