Bromeswell/ Westhall: British Larder and Belle Grove triump at VisitEngland awards

TWO vibrant new Suffolk businesses are celebrating after making it to the finals of a prestigious national tourism awards.

British Larder, a pub restaurant business based near Woodbridge, and Belle Grove, a farm-based self-catering holiday provider near Halesworth, will be vying for gold awards at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2012.

All of the finalists will be awarded either a gold, silver, bronze or highly commended award in their respective categories at the ceremony, which takes place in Leicester next month.

Both of the Suffolk businesses have been formed by enthusiastic couples and both are only two or three years old.

Madalene Bonvini-Hamel, who launched British Larder at Bromeswell with chef Ross Pike with the express idea of promoting good local produce, described the accolade as “absolutely amazing”.

“It makes you realise all your hard work and everything you stand for and your enthos that a lot of people have got the same kind of outlook,” she said.

She and Ross created British Larder, which is in the Taste of England Award category, after taking over a pub and promoting the ethos of their popular recipe website.

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“We are so excited about it and very, very pleased,” she said.

“It’s an amazing achievement and we are just so proud that we could do something special for Suffolk, that we could bring something to the table of Suffolk. It just underlines that Suffolk is a county to watch out for.”

Jo Jordan and husband Nick Fisher, based at Westhall, created five sumptuously luxurious holiday cottages from redundant farm buildings on the family farm three years ago. Their business will be competing in the Self Catering Holiday Provider of the Year category. They are “delighted” to have made it to the finals, said Jo.

It was their “retirement project”, she said, and Nick had undertaken much of the building work, while she devoted her attention to the interiors.

“It was a big job - it involved a very considerable commitment,” she said.

“From a business point of view, it’s proving considerably more profitable than farming is at the moment and we actually quite enjoy the fact of having our visitors, our guests. We enjoy meeting them.”

VisitEngland chief executive James Berresford said: “The quality of submissions this year has been outstanding and British Larder and Belle Grove can justifiably take credit and pride in earning a place at the top of their category in England. I wish everyone all the best for the final in May.”