South West England and West Wales top the leader-board as successful rural business hubs.
Winners include cheese-purveyors to royalty; a metal mine turned world-class in-land surf lagoon; one of the UK’s last remaining hand-print studios; and a business supplying hatching-eggs and offering ‘holidays’ for hens.
Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire –1st March 2019 – Rural businesses are celebrating today following last night’s Rural Business Awards ceremony, held at the luxury Midlands hotel, Chateau Impney. Attendees were hosted by Jules Hudson, best-known as the leading face of the BBC’s rural property flagship Escape to the Country.
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 £229bn to the nation’s GVA (Gross Value Added) – about a fifth of the country’s economic activity.
Following hundreds of entrants and a competitive shortlist process, including a new series of regional rounds, thirteen category winners and a “Founders’ Choice” award were announced. Winners came from a range of sectors, including: the UK’s only producer of raw butter and brie-style cheese, served at HRH The Duke of Sussex’s wedding breakfast (Fen Farm Dairy); a fabric and wall-paper manufacturer operating from one of the UK’s few remaining handprint studios (Rapture & Wright); and an e-commerce supplier of hatching eggs, which also offers overnight boarding for hens, and works with Henpower to support older people to combat loneliness and depression (Durham Hens).
Founded by countryside-based business-women, Jemma Clifford and Anna Price, the Rural Business Awards are supported by Amazon, as headline sponsor, and judged by an independent panel, drawn from the rural business sector, rural public sector agencies, and rural charitable organisations.
“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.”
Gloucestershire and Ceredigion were the best represented counties in the winners’ list, while at a regional level, South West England topped the charts, with four winners, while West Wales followed closely behind with three winners based in that region.
Scooping a new award for this year, “The Founders’ Choice” award was a North Wales enterprise, Adventure Parc Snowdonia – a world-first surf lagoon with tech-driven waves. Expansion plans for 2019 include a new indoor adrenaline area with artificial caving, parkour ninja trail and climbing walls; the launch of a fresh-air mountain bike hire station; and an adventure concierge service to help guests to explore the landscapes of North Wales with instructor-led activities including gorge walking, abseiling and coasteering. A Hilton Garden Inn, which will sit on the shores of the surf lagoon, is in development and due to open in 2020.
Commenting on their awards success, Andy Ainscough, Founder and Managing Director, Adventure Parc Snowdonia said: “Having started out as a surfing enthusiast and outdoor instructor, it’s been incredible to bring a world-class surfing destination to the foothills of Snowdonia. It’s been a real journey of transformation in every sense – both for us as a team and for our site, which we’ve cleaned up and developed from being a polluted post-industrial ruin to a beautiful flagship destination for the UK and focal point for the village and the local community. We’ve been absolutely delighted by the scale of popularity of our adventure parc, and we are so excited to show visitors our expanded proposition later this year, especially having now scooped this recognition from Amazon and the Rural Business Awards.”
Anna Price, who co-founded the RBAs, alongside Jemma Clifford, said: “We are overwhelmed by the success of our Rural Business Awards, which with support from Amazon, have done much to champion countryside-based firms across Britain. Huge congratulations to all those who have been successful in our national awards, following the tough regional heats.”
“We were also thrilled to officially launch our ‘Rural Business Group’, a not for profit, Community Interest Company (CIC), at yesterday’s ceremony, following an earlier rural roundtable at 10 Downing Street we’re delighted to have been invited to return in 2019 to again enable rural businesses to share their experiences, concerns, and hopes for the future”.
“If rural firms are already punching above their weight in their contribution to the UK economy, who knows what we can achieve if we work together to create a level playing field to enable rural businesses to compete on equal terms?”.
Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner said: “I am delighted that so many forward-thinking businesses have been honoured with these much-deserved awards.
“From regional start-ups to global logistics firms, it is essential that we recognise the vital role of these organisations in helping to deliver a thriving rural and national economy.”
 House of Lords library note: Rural Economy, Key Statistics and Recent Developments (April, 2016)