A Suffolk meat company, a fish enterprise and a village post office have all made it through to the regional finals of the prestigious Countryside Alliance Awards.

Essex entries including a pub near Colchester and a farmer-owned pork enterprise have also been shortlisted.

The Wild Meat Company, owned by Robert Gooch and Paul Denny at Blaxhall, near Woodbridge, and Maximus Sustainable Fishing Ltd, run by Chris Wightman at Friday St Farm Shop, Farnham, Saxmundham, will be vying for the Local Food and Drink title at the awards.

Wicks Manor Farm & Butchers, run by pig farmer Fergus Howie and family at Tolleshunt Major, Essex, has also made the cut in the same category.

East Anglian Daily Times: Maximus Sustainable Fishing Ltd, run by Chris Wightman, has made the regional finals of the

Otley Post Office & Stores will be hoping to be crowned Best Village Shop/Post Office after being shortlisted with four other entries.

The Court House, Great Bromley, Colchester, will be hoping to take away the Best Pub award.

In all, 25 rural businesses from across the East of England have made the cut from thousands of nominations from across the country which were whittled down to a final few.

Winners are set to be chosen by public vote, and will go on to represent the region at the House of Lords in a national champions reception in June 2024.

Businesses were judged on a range of criteria including passion and commitment, sense of community, championing local food and the energy and diversity of their business, said the Countryside Alliance. 

The awards - now in their 17th year - are known as the Rural Oscars and celebrate businesses that go the extra mile in support of their local economy.

There are five categories including, ‘best pub’, ‘best village shop/ post office’, ‘best butcher’, ‘best for local food a drink’ and the ‘rural enterprise award’. 

Fans of the businesses can vote for their favourites via the Countryside Alliance website - and can choose one entry from each category.

Countryside Alliance director of policy Sarah Lee said they received a wealth of nominations across the region from the public this year.

"Each business plays a meaningful role in their community, and what sets the Rural Oscars apart is their emphasis on honouring the individuals behind these businesses, rather than just their products or services," she said.

"Given the challenging circumstances faced by many rural businesses around the country, it's essential for all of us to demonstrate support in any way possible. We encourage as many people as possible to get voting today.”