If anybody ever needed evidence of the entrepreneurial nature of country people, they should have been in London today (Wednesday, 18 March) for the presentation of the Countryside Alliance Awards. Tim Relf, one of the national judges in this prestigious competition, profiles the winners.


Best Rural Enterprise

Best Local Food Retailer

Best Traditional Business

Best Village Shop/Post Office

Rural Hero


Hard work, initiative and business acumen – just three of the accolades given to the winners of the Countryside Alliance Awards this week.

Formerly known as the Best Rural Retailer competition, this contest attracted well over 2500 nominations from across England, Wales and Scotland – a figure that’s grown every year since they were launched in 2005.

Four categories – Best Rural Enterprise, Best Local Food Retailer, Best Traditional Business and Best Village Shop/Post Office – were contested, along with a new award this year, Rural Hero.

The initiative, supported by Farmers Weekly and the Daily Telegraph, aims to support and promote rural communities, while also demonstrating it isn’t all doom and gloom in the countryside, say the organisers.

“While times undoubtedly are tough for some, there should be recognition of the spirit and the efforts of people to keep their communities alive,” says Countryside Alliance chief executive Simon Hart.

Wednesday’s event saw regional finalists travel to London from across the country for the announcement of the national winners.

It was a well-deserved day off (actually, many of them had put in a day’s work before they left or when they got home), a chance to meet other successful business people and enjoy a trip to the capital with family and friends.

Many took the chance to take in a few sights, plus rub shoulders with MPs and the assorted VIPs attending this The House of Lords event.

The Winners