South East England and North Yorkshire top the leader-board as successful rural business hubs
Winners include a rehoming ‘hen spa’ initiative; a derelict pub turned thriving social hub, a rural Yorkshire dance school founded by award-winning choreographer; and two rural businesses that triumphed over adversity to find success
Manchester – 28th February 2020 – Rural businesses from across Britain are celebrating today following last night’s Rural Business Awards ceremony, held at the exceptional grade II heritage building, The Monastery, where Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business addressed the shortlisted business attendees.
The awards aim to recognise and celebrate the successes of businesses operating in the UK’s rural economy; a sector which in England alone contributes £261bn to the nation’s GVA (Gross Value Added) – nearly a fifth of the country’s total economic activity.
“The Rural Business Awards shines a much-deserved spotlight on the innovators, creators and inventors in rural communities across the UK and it’s great to celebrate their successes at this year’s national final,” said Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon. “The calibre of businesses entering this year’s awards has been higher than ever. I’d like to congratulate all the winners and nominees and wish them continued success for the future.”
Twelve category winners including a “Triumph Over Adversity” award were announced, following hundreds of entrants, a competitive shortlist process and a series of regional rounds. Winners came from a range of sectors, including:
- A community owned social enterprise which, after being uninhabitable for eight years, was transformed into the best dining spot in the region (The Pheasant at Neenton)
- A rural dance school set up by young entrepreneur, award-winning choreographer and professional dancer (Charlotte Jacqueline School of Dance)
- And a farm shop where happy hens spend their days in a ‘hen spa’ before being rehomed to families around Yorkshire, with the owners rehoming 6,000 hens in three days back in 2018 (Minskip Farm Shop).
Founded by rural-based businesswomen, Jemma Clifford and Anna Price, the Rural Business Awards are backed by Amazon and judged by an independent panel, drawn from the rural business sector, rural public sector agencies, and rural charitable organisations.
The new award “Triumph Over Adversity”, which recognises businesses or individuals who have overcome significant business or personal difficulties, was awarded to two winners.
Representing the North West, accessible holiday accommodation, Brickhouse Farm Cottages, provides purpose-built retreats, including hot tubs with track hoists. Thirteen years ago, Brickhouse Farm was converted to support wheelchair use, for the owners’ daughter following injury in a road accident, and this led to the idea behind Brickhouse Farm Cottages. After being told that an accessible retreat would not be popular, the couple fought through planning legislation and now offer twelve beautiful cottages overlooking a fishing lake – with their daughters doing the PR and marketing for the business.
Commenting on their awards success, Vicki Murray, Marketing Manager, Brickhouse Farm Cottages said: “We are thrilled to receive the Triumph Over Adversity Award. As a family, we have faced our own set of challenges. As a result, we are incredibly passionate about enabling everyone to experience memorable family holidays by offering luxury, accessible holiday accommodation. We are very proud of the work we do and are delighted to have been recognised by the Rural Business Awards and Amazon. We can’t wait to share this news with everyone who has supported us over the years and look forward to a bright future for Brickhouse Farm Cottages.”
Another “Triumph over Adversity” award-winner was South East enterprise, Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm, a grower and retailer of Christmas trees alongside a shop selling wreaths, lights and decorations. Founder of the business, Clive Collin, was determined to pursue his dream of running a Christmas tree farm after falling 30ft from a tree as a forester and becoming paralysed from the waist down. Using specially adapted vehicles and equipment, Clive works on the farm, and has committed to replanting all of the harvested trees, as part of an environmental initiative.
“I am delighted to have won the Triumph Over Adversity Award,” said Clive Collin, Owner, Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm, adding, “following a life-changing accident while working as a forester, I refused to let anything stand in the way of pursuing my dream to run a Christmas tree farm. Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm has just celebrated being in business for 30 years, and I am proud of everything my team and I have achieved. Receiving this award from the Rural Business Awards and Amazon really is the icing on the cake of a landmark year for us.”
Anna Price, who co-founded the RBAs alongside Jemma Clifford, said: “The 2019/20 Rural Business Awards has been our best year yet, and our work to promote the rural sector would not be possible without the support of Amazon and our other sponsors. The calibre of entries this year was exceptional, so we’d like to wish a hearty congratulations to all our winners.”
Jemma added: “We are especially inspired by the winners of this year’s National Triumph Over Adversity Award. We all face challenges, whether as business owners or just as human beings; what sets these businesses apart is the way in which they have risen to these challenges with a strong sense of hope and determination to pursue their dreams, whatever they may be.”
Addressing the businesses, Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business, commented: “Rural businesses make a vital contribution not only to their local communities, but to the UK economy as a whole, and it is fantastic to recognise that with these awards. This government is backing businesses across every part of the country to drive innovation and sustainable growth”.
The full list of this year’s Rural Business Awards winners:
- Best Rural Start Up Business: Ballinger Equine, based in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.
- Bust Rural Diversification Project: The Little Grey Sheep, based in Hook, Hampshire.
- Best Rural Retail Business: Baa Stool LTD, based in Denbigh, Denbighshire.
- Best Rural Professional Services: The Great Out-Tours, based in Heathfield, East Sussex.
- Best Rural Creative, Artisan or Crafts Business: Sam Wilson Studio LTD, based in Broadway, Worcestershire.
- Bust Rural Digital, Communications or Media Business: TAP, based in Wallingford, Oxfordshire.
- Best Rural Social Enterprise, Charity or Community Project: The Pheasant at Neenton, based in Bridgnorth, Shropshire.
- Best Rural Tourism Business: Nettlecombe Farm, based in Whitwell, Isle of Wight.
- Best Rural Recreational or Outdoor Pursuits Business: Newlands Adventure Centre, based in Keswick, Cumbria.
- Best Rural Food or Drink Business: Minskip Farm Shop, based in Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire.
- Rural Young Person of the Year: Charlotte Jacqueline School of Dance, based in Richmond, North Yorkshire.
- The Triumph over Adversity Award:
 House of Lords library note, Rural Economy and UK Agriculture: Issues for the New Parliament (January, 2020)