A quirky wedding venue, a micro bakery and a rights of way consultancy from Wales have all been judged among Britain’s best countryside-based firms at the Rural Business Awards 2017.
The Ceridwen Centre Ltd in the Teifi Valley, ET Landnet of Llanelli and Crwst of Pembrokeshire were handed their accolades at a glittering ceremony on October 5 compered by Jules Hudson of BBC Escape to the Country fame. Ceridwen was highly commended for Best Rural Tourism Business; ET Landnet was highly commended for Amazon Business sponsored Best Rural Professional Services Business and Crwst was also highly commended for Rural Entrepreneur of the Year. The only UK-wide programme dedicated to showcasing the success of rural businesses, the awards are now in their third year and are run in partnership with the CLA and Amazon.
Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner said: “Farm shops, food producers and rural start-ups are a vital part of the UK’s economy, generating over £230 billion every year. It is fantastic to see the breadth of talent on display across our rural communities and I am delighted so many hardworking businesses have been honoured.”
“The stories of these successful rural businesses are incredibly inspiring and just go to show the immense talent that exists at the heart of our rural communities in the UK,” said Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon. “I would like to extend a hearty congratulations to those who were successful in the awards, and to thank all those who entered and shared their successes, and wish them the very best for the future.”
Ceridwen Centre Ltd is an eco-minded holiday, course, retreat, event and wedding venue on a 40-acre organic farm. Glamping accommodation includes yurts, a Romany caravan, a double decker bus, eco pod, upcycled static caravans as well as converted traditional stone buildings, and Ceridwen is licensed for wedding ceremonies in The Old Dairy and Green Oak Pagoda. Receptions are held in a giant tipi, and the business attracts more than 2000 people a year to Wales. The farm has 12 acres of oats, wildflower hay meadows and a market garden growing veg for the centre’s users. Holders of the Gold Award for Best Sustainable Tourism Business in the Carmarthenshire Tourism awards for the last four years, Ceridwen’s owners greatly about the rural environment with energy demands served by biomass, solar thermal and solar PV. Employing up to 20 local staff, judges thought Ceridwen was an interesting, unique idea with “brilliant green credentials”. Ceridwen’s achievement in being awarded highly commended was particularly impressive, as this category of the awards attracted more entries than any other this year.
Simone Broome from Ceridwen Centre Ltd said, “Our guests love our rural location, unique surroundings and locally sourced food, and we’re delighted that the Rural Business Awards has recognised us in the Best Rural Tourism Business category. Being included in this year’s programme has been a wonderful experience. 2017 has been a great year for everyone at Ceridwen Centre and we can’t wait for more successes in 2018.”
ET Landnet Ltd is a leading consultancy specialising in Rights of Way, advising and representing landowners throughout England and Wales. It offers legal and technical expertise, dealing with everything from footpath and bridleway diversions to modification orders and challenging path claims as well as public inquiries, representation cases and advice on gates, stiles, surfaces and structures. ET Landnet understands that managing public access to land is a significant issue for landowners and is there to help. Judges thought ET Landnet was a highly specialised business offering expert advice to its rural clients.
Michael Wood from ET Landnet Ltd said, “The Rural Business Awards celebrate the very best of UK rural enterprise and we’re thrilled to have been recognised for our dedication and excellent service. We specialise in working with landowners in remote locations and to know that our efforts are appreciated and valued by our clients, as well as the wider business community, is fulfilling, and an achievement that we are looking forward to celebrating.”
Crwst is a micro-bakery based in a home kitchen in Pembrokeshire. Co-owners Catrin and Osian Jones produce handmade real bread and seasonal bakes all from home, with the aim of bringing London’s modern and trendy baking to rural West Wales. Crwst supplies up to 10 local businesses in the area and uses local produce, for example, Pembrokeshire Sea Salt. The couple grow vegetables for their baking and promote the business online using social media. The whole concept of Crwst impressed judges, who felt the couple showed vision and ambition for their relatively young business.
The RBAs are 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 in favour of large city-based firms.
The awards are organised by rural businesses for rural businesses and judged by people who understand the rural sector, which is growing rapidly and employs in excess of 3.4 million people in more than 600,000 businesses across the UK.
This year’s awards saw nearly three times as many entries as in 2016, with businesses from 52 counties in the UK sending in their applications. They were split into 13 categories with five finalists in each, of which one winner, one runner-up and three highly commended prizes were awarded, plus an overall champion of champions. The awards this year showed particularly strong representation from Yorkshire and Lancashire, and the most popular categories were tourism and diversification.
Awards co-founder Jemma Clifford said: “Rural firms from Wales have traditionally done well in the RBAs – with The Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company winning the food and drink category at our first ever awards, for example – and it’s great to see that continue in 2017, with such diverse entries too. These three businesses are so different from one another, but united in their passion for the countryside and desire to create a sustainable future for rural life. They are all deserving winners of our coveted highly commended awards and we wish them every continued success.
“The Rural Business Awards give rural enterprises of all sizes the opportunity to showcase their success and the contribution they are making to our thriving rural economy – just the firms that have entered in 2017 have combined turnovers well in excess of £70m. Hundreds of companies enter the RBAs each year and the finals illustrate the best businesses the countryside has to offer in each of the 13 categories.”
CLA Director General Helen Woolley said: “The CLA is delighted to partner with the Rural Business Awards to highlight the vital contribution our rural areas make to the wider economy.
“It was a great pleasure for me to be a part of the judging panel to see the passion for rural business demonstrated by the finalists. My congratulations go to all the winners who have shown great expertise in their field and have a real understanding of how they fit into the rural economy as a whole. I urge all our winners to keep flying the flag for rural business!”
This year’s glittering awards ceremony was held at Denbies Wine Estates in Surrey. Next year’s awards will be open for entries in November 2017. To find out more, visit www.ruralbusinessawards.co.uk
The five finalists for Best Rural Tourism Business:
Hoe Grange Holidays, based in Matlock, Derbyshire (WINNER)
Barleylands Farm Park and Craft Village, based in Billericay, Essex (RUNNER UP)
Ceridwen Centre Ltd, based in Llandysul, Carmarthenshire (HIGHLY COMMENDED)
Humble Bee Leisure, based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire (HIGHLY COMMENDED)
The Rookery, based in Roughlee, Lancashire (HIGHLY COMMENDED)
The finalists for Best Rural Professional Services Business:
Greenway Training, based in Lyneham, Wiltshire (WINNER)
Roythornes Limited, based in Spalding, Lincolnshire (RUNNER UP)
Appetite Me, based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk (HIGHLY COMMENDED)
ET Landnet Ltd, based in Cefneithin, Llanelli (HIGHLY COMMENDED)
McCartneys LLP, based in Ludlow, Shropshire (HIGHLY COMMENDED)
Rural Entrepreneur of the year:
Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park, based in Chelmsford, Essex (WINNER)
Williams Automobiles Ltd, based in Chipping Sodbury, Avon (RUNNER UP)
Crwst, based in Boncath, Pembrokeshire (HIGHLY COMMENDED)
Holdsworth PR, based in Washington, West Sussex (HIGHLY COMMENDED)
Iscoyd Park LLP, based in Whitchurch, Shropshire (HIGHLY COMMENDED)
The full list of Rural Business Awards 2017 Winners:
- Champion of Champions & Best Rural Tourism Business:Hoe Grange Holidays, based in Matlock, Derbyshire
- Best Rural Start-up: Herdy Sleep, based in Leeds, West Yorkshire
- Outstanding Rural Diversification Project: T.Mellor and Son (Wold Top Brewery), based in Driffield, East Riding of Yorkshire
- Best Rural Clothing or Accessories Business: Derriere Equestrian Ltd, based in Broadway, Worcestershire
- Rural Innovation of the Year: Zettlex (UK) Ltd, based in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
- Best Rural Manufacturing Business: James Kittow Butcher & Grazier, based in Par, Cornwall
- Best Rural Professional Services Business: Greenway Training, based in Lyneham, Wiltshire
- Best Rural Creative or Media-based Business: Farm Creative, based in Preston, Lancashire
- Social Enterprise / Community Project of the Year: Rhubarb Farm Cic, based in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire
- Best Rural Sporting Business: Divoky Riding School, based in Shepton Mallet, Somerset
- Rural Employer of the Year & Best Rural Food & Drink Business: T Soanes & Son Poultry, based in Driffield, East Riding of Yorkshire
- Rural Entrepreneur of the Year: Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park, based in Chelmsford, Essex