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Rural retailers of the year announced at Westminster

The competition celebrates the CA’s rural communities through the retailers who work so hard to keep them ticking.

Regional winners from across Britain gathered at the House of Lords to hear Countryside Alliance chief executive, Simon Hart, announce the winners in the four categories.

Countryside Alliance chairman, Kate Hoey MP, was also there to honour the winners, as were cross-party Parliamentarians who support rural life.

The winners of the 2007 competition are:
Best local food retailer: Horstead Farming Group, Beeston St Andrews, Norfolk.
Simon Hart said: “As my fellow judge, Tim Relf, says, it is truly phenomenal to find five local farmers who get on with each other, far less go into business! This co-operative is evangelical, not just about the environment, but about selling quality, seasonal, traceable produce. The public is encouraged to learn more by coming on HFG’s numerous farm visits, helping to form a relationship between consumers and the food they eat, which must surely be the future of food retail.”

Highly commended: Goldys Farm Shop, Wareham, Dorset and SW Doughty butchers, Doddington, Kent.

Best village shop/post office: Nettleton Post Office & Stores, Nettleton, Wiltshire.
Simon said: “Di Bell is clearly the heart of this community. She started the shop in one room of her house 30 years ago and has gone from strength to strength. She received many nominations in this competition, all praising her warm nature and determination to see her community thrive. With shops and post offices under threat there is no better advertisement for rural retailing than Di.”

Di Bell & Kate HoeyAbove: Best village shop/post office winner, Di Bell, with MP Kate Hoey.

Highly commended: Ascott Village Shop, Ascott-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire.

Best diversification: Jolly Farmers Food Emporium, Betchworth, Surrey.
Simon said: “This is a unique diversification done with real enterprising flair. Jon and Paula Briscoe took over a pub, removed the drinking area and installed a deli, meaning shoppers can do their food shop during pub hours (rivalling supermarket opening times). The wonderful local produce on sale is also on the menu in the restaurant. This is a piece of smart thinking that has already provided huge support to local food producers, the local community and the local economy.”

The Jolly Farmers: winners of the Best diversification category.Above: the Jolly Farmers were winners of the Best diversification category.

Highly commended: Piercebridge Organic Farm Shop and Café, Darlington, Co. Durham.

Daily Telegraph best traditional business: Andrew Rees & Sons, butchers, Narberth, Pembrokeshire.
Simon said: “As fellow judge Andrew Pierce of the Daily Telegraph observed: “He is not just a butcher, but a one-man local food campaign….. Eat your hearts out Jamie, Hugh and Gordon, Andrew Rees was there first”.
Andrew Rees is immensely modest, but he is carrying on traditional skills in a modern setting and making huge efforts to inform the next generation about the benefits of local produce, meaning butchery has a future. He is also a firm favourite with his community, especially the food producers he goes the extra mile to support.”

Andrew Rees and family with Simon Hart.Above: Daily Telegraph best traditional business winner, Andrew Rees and his family with Simon Hart of the Alliance.

Highly commended: CWG wool graders, Stamford, Lincolnshire.