I thoroughly enjoyed the winners' reception of the Countryside Alliance Awards, nicknamed the "Rural Oscars", at Parliament yesterday. The terrace room of the House of Lords was packed with regional champions from across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, all celebrating their titles and keen to know if they were about to take the UK & Ireland Champion title too.
Countryside Alliance Chairman Kate Hoey MP announced the UK & Ireland Champions across five categories and our film crew was there to capture the action. You can watch a short film here
Congratulations to everyone who has been involved in the 2011 Awards, you have helped to make them a true celebration of our countryside, with positive media coverage to match. The fact that we had two Defra representatives on hand to help present the prizes is a testament to how prestigious and important the Awards have become in their seven years of existence.
Defra Minister Richard Benyon MP said the day was "a great celebration of the best of British rural life. The winners of these awards have really made a difference to their local community either through boosting local businesses, protecting the natural environment or supporting a thriving rural community. It’s been a privilege to share their success with them.”
Mr Benyon and Lord Taylor of Holbeach were fulsome in their support and congratulations to our champions which is praise indeed. I am extremely proud to introduce to you the UK & Ireland Champions of 2011.
Local Food UK & Ireland Champions
Suffolk Food Hall, Wherstead, Ipswich, Suffolk 01473 786610. Countryside Alliance members will receive a special 10% discount at the Suffolk Food Hall's on-line shop for the month of March. http://www.suffolkfoodhall.co.uk/shop (free delivery over £50, £5 delivery under £50). Enter Coupon code ‘ CAawards ‘ Highly Commended
: Foxbury Farm Shop, Brize Norton, Oxfordshire 01993 867385 www.foxburyfarm.co.uk
(Pictured are Suffolk Food Hall butcher Gerard King, Clarissa Dickson Wright, Lord Taylor of Holbeach and Oliver Paul of Suffolk Food Hall)
Daily Telegraph Village Shop/ Post Office UK & Ireland Champions
(Pictured are Defra Minister Richard Benyon, Jo & Phil James of Ludwell Stores and Philip Johnston of the Daily Telegraph)
Rural Enterprise UK & Ireland Champions
Park Hill Farm, Hales, Market Drayton, Shropshire 01630 652178 www.parkhillfarm.co.uk Highly Commended
: The Cholmeley Arms, Burton-le-Coggles, Grantham, Lincolnshire, 01476 550 225 www.thecholmeleyarms.co.uk
(Pictured are Defra Minister Richard Benyon MP, John and Pat Pimlott of Park Hill Farm and Chris Dewbury of Hunter Boot)
(Pictured are Defra Minister Richard Benyon MP, James and Emma Nolan of Nolan's of Kilcullen and Clarissa Dickson Wright)
Special Award: Rural Hero of 2011
Michael Patrick Martin, Mallusk, Co. Antrim www.sixmilewatertrust.co.uk/
for setting up the Six Mile Water Trust to help combat pollution, promote conservation of Northern Ireland's waterways and educate the next generation as to their importance.
(Pictured are Defra Minister Richard Benyon MP, Rural Hero Michael Patrick Martin and Kate Hoey MP, who like Michael is from Co. Antrim)