As our national final is less than three weeks away, we think it is the perfect time to get to know the businesses vying for our coveted national awards. Over the next few weeks we will be taking a look at each of our twelve categories in turn, from Best Rural Start Up all the way through to the Triumph Over Adversity award.

Each national finalist has already won the award for their category in their own region. We think they’re all fantastic rural businesses, but who will our judges declare to be the cream of the crop?

Find out more about each of the business in with a chance of winning the national Best Rural Social Enterprise, Charity or Community Project Award below. This award is sponsored by Hunters Law LLP.


Hampstead Norreys Community Shop – South East Region

Hampstead Norreys Community Shop is run by the community for the community. It is a non-profit making village shop and cafe, staffed by a mixture of paid staff and volunteers. It opened in 2011 as a result of a village parish plan open meeting when 80% of villagers requested a shop. (The previous shop had closed in 1996.) In 2016 a cafe extension was built to ensure the long-term viability of the business. The shop and cafe provide vital services for the village, and act as a community hub. Everyone knows everyone else – young and old chat together and work alongside each other as volunteers; the social side of the business is of the highest importance.


Itteringham Community Shop – East Region

There has been a shop in the heart of Itteringham village since 1637. After 380 years of commerce it now trades successfully as a community-run business, thanks to the help of staff, local volunteers, supporters and guidance from the Itteringham Community Association (formed in 1994). The philosophy of Itteringham Community Shop is quite simple: to serve the community with a wide selection of tasty locally produced food and thereby helping small local rural businesses and providing local employment. Above all else, the community shop is an important social hub for local residents and the wider rural community.


LionMouth Rural Centre – North Region

Lionmouth Rural Centre is set in seven acres of rural countryside on the fringe of Durham City, surrounded by ex-mining villages. It is a mix of woodlands, meadows, ponds, demonstration gardens and vegetable terraces.

The Community Interest Company offers a safe place where people with mental health, social and learning disabilities are encouraged to take part in practical and meaningful activities in art, horticulture, woodwork, pottery, cookery and conservation. Clients are mostly referred to them through the Council Learning Disability or Mental Health teams, and range in age from school leavers through to 65+.


Llanwrtyd Wells Community Transport – Wales & Northern Ireland Region

Llanwrtyd Wells Community Transport offers essential transport services in an isolated rural area. But more than that, they have diversified and now offer recycling and waste services, a community centre and so much more. Offering services like coffee mornings and a credit union on top of transport has helped the local town, villages and surrounding communities remain independent, active and sustainable. The vision of Llanwrtyd community transport is to reduce rural isolation faced by those living in the mid-Powys area.


Running Deer CIC – South West Region

Based on the edge of Dartmoor in their 16-acre woodland, Running Deer operates a special needs school for children with autism, ADHD, and social, emotional and mental health difficulties. Running Deer offers day respite for parents with children with special educational needs during the holidays, and courses in rural skills for adults, in particular those at risk of exclusion. They also rescue wild Dartmoor Hill ponies. They want to make a real and lasting difference to people’s lives through learning, training, volunteering and life skills opportunities, whilst having a positive impact on their beautiful environment too. 


The Pheasant at Neenton – Midlands Region

The Pheasant at Neenton is a community-owned social enterprise that’s breathing life back into a dying village in a deprived rural area, left without public facilities since the pub closed in 2006. The treasured local is now the thriving social and economic hub for the village, providing employment for local young people and making its mark nationally as one of the best dining pubs in the region, with accommodation. The Pheasant was restored from dereliction and extended through a ground-breaking use of community-rights thinking to fund much of the project by building 7 houses, including two affordables.


Which business will be triumphant? Find out on 27th February! We’ll be posting the results on our Twitter and Facebook channels, so you can follow along there. All that’s left is to wish the very best of luck to the businesses vying for the Hunters Law-sponsored National Best Rural Social Enterprise, Charity or Community Project Award, as well as all of our other national finalists.

To see the full list of finalists or find more information on the National Final, go to www.ruralbusinessawards.co.uk/national

If you think your business has a shot at winning Best Rural Social Enterprise, Charity or Community Project, or one of our other awards, why not enter the 2020/21 Rural Business Awards? Learn more at www.ruralbusinessawards.co.uk/enter-2020

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