Countryside-based firms based all over Britain are being invited to step forward and enter the Rural Business Awards 2016.
The only UK-wide business awards for rural enterprises, the scheme is now in its second year and is 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 by large city-based firms.
Boosted by a partnership with the Country Land & Business Association (CLA), this year’s Rural Business Awards have been expanded to include 13 categories including prizes for start-ups, food & drink, manufacturers and apparel businesses. The only criterion is that they must be countryside-based.
At last year’s glittering awards ceremony in Leicestershire’s Stapleford Park, a wide variety of UK rural companies were recognised for their amazing achievements, with the overall champion of champions named as Devon’s Lily Warne Wool, which was also crowned best rural start-up.
Lily Warne Wool was founded by mother-and-son team Paula and Lewis Steer, and produces beautiful yarns from the farm’s own flock of Greyface Dartmoor sheep. Lily Warne Wools are stocked in John Lewis, as well as being sold overseas, and judges were very impressed with the way the company had achieved growth while remaining true to its roots in the beautiful Devon countryside.
After winning the award, Lewis Steer said: “To be recognised for the business element of what we have achieved was quite amazing to us – we’re a mother-and-son brand so for us to be judged against quite a few big businesses and to hold our own was really something.”
Lewis said the award had enabled Lily Warne Wool to achieve much greater publicity, explaining: “The sponsors included us in their promotional material that went inside Farmers Weekly and that had quite a knock-on effect.
“It made the farming community realise the scale of what we have been able to achieve in quite a short space of time. And it’s given us more gravitas when we’re approaching wholesalers and things like that. When we are telling people about our story, this award has given us a lot of confidence which backs up what we are saying.”
Other prize-winners on the night included Cambridgeshire sensors company Zettlex, which won Outstanding Rural Manufacturing Business, while the Somerset-based British Alpaca Fashion Company was named Best Rural Apparel Product or Brand.
Gary Markham, from Cambridgeshire accountancy firm Churchgates – last year’s winner in the Best Rural Professional Service category – encouraged other businesses to enter this year’s awards, saying the involvement of the CLA had been particularly helpful in boosting trade.
He said: “It was really good for us because the CLA presented the award to me and we had a follow up photo in the CLA magazine which is the exact sector we look after – it gave us very good credibility in the market place.
“The exposure was at the perfect time for us. We have had new business as a result; several landed estates have contacted us because of that credibility, it’s all linked together. We have now taken on several rural estates and looked after their financial affairs as a result of the award and of that credibility.
“I would definitely recommend any business to enter, even if it’s just to become involved. Even being shortlisted is very prestigious.”
Awards co-founder Anna Price said: “We are so proud to be holding our Rural Business Awards for the second year running and our new partnership with the CLA will help us to take the awards from strength to strength.
“These awards present a fantastic opportunity for British countryside-based businesses to achieve recognition for what they are doing. Winning an award has been proven to be very helpful in promoting your brand in the marketplace and achieving greater growth.
“My co-founder Jemma and I are passionate about raising the profile of rural enterprise and we urge any UK business based in the countryside to put their name forward.”
CLA Director General Helen Woolley said: “We are delighted to partner with the Rural Business Awards to showcase the talent, innovation and tenacity within the rural economy – from foods and manufacturing, to leisure and land management.
“The range of categories for the Rural Business Awards 2016 highlights the breadth of the rural economy. In England alone rural businesses contribute £229 billion in gross value added to the national economy. It is time for greater recognition that diverse and successful businesses are located at the heart of rural communities, and we encourage CLA Members across the country to enter the awards and use this opportunity to celebrate their achievements.”
The awards ceremony for this year’s awards will take place in October, the application window is now open and entries can be made up to 30th June 2016.
There is a simple form to fill in and an entry fee of just £50. You can also nominate another business who you think deserves to be recognised in our awards. If you would like help with entering or advice on which category to choose, call us 07908 722 497 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Our full category list is:
- Best Rural Start-up
- Outstanding Rural Diversification Project
- Best Rural Apparel Business
- Rural Innovation of the year
- Best Rural Manufacturing Business
- Best Rural Professional Services Business
- Best Rural Creative or media based business
- Social enterprise / community project of the year
- Best Rural Tourism Business
- Best Rural Sporting Business
- Rural Employer of the year
- Rural Entrepreneur of the year
- Best Food & Drink Business
Best Rural start-up will be split into regional categories the winners of which will be shortlisted for the final judging:
- Best Rural Start-up Scotland
- Best Rural Start-up Wales
- Best Rural Start-up North of England
- Best Rural Start-up Midlands
- Best Rural Start-up East
- Best Rural Start-up South West
- Best Rural Start-up South East