Family-run butchery and drinks firms celebrate national awards
- Credit: Dropstitch-media
Family-run food and drink firms from Suffolk and north Essex are celebrating national victories in an awards scheme known as the "Rural Oscars".
The Countryside Alliance Rural Business Awards, now in their 15th year, received a record 18,000 public nominations this year.
Among the winners were Lavenham Butchers in Suffolk, which won the Best Butcher title, while Barn Farm Drinks, based at Bradfield near Manningtree in Essex, was named the Rural Enterprise Champion.
Lavenham Butchers, run by Greg and Jenny Strolenberg, was described as being "at the top of their game” in a category which rewards butchers who provide a "key link between local people and the farms and fields that surround them.
Mr Strolenberg said he was "gobsmacked" to win the award.
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"I couldn't believe it - it doesn't get any better than this," he said. "When you look at the competition we were up against, there were some very good butchers.
"We do everything as locally as we can, supporting Suffolk farmers from field to fork, and trying to keep the standard high. It is also about the consistency and the great service from our staff and the in-depth knowledge we have got in the team."
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The judges said: “With a wide range of products and staying true to their ‘field to fork’ ethos, their total commitment to providing locally sourced, sustainable meat and produce shines through every inch of the shop."
Meanwhile, Barn Farm Drinks' success in the Rural Enterprise Champion category was the firm's second accolade of the month after being shortlisted last week as a finalist in the British Farming Awards.
Soft fruit growers Gail and Craig Williamson launched the firm in 2017 after identifying a gap in the market for farm-pressed fruit juices.
The judges said the business "is not only dedicated to giving us one of our five a day through their juices made from berries grown, pressed and bottled on their farm in Essex but they provide habitat for pollinators, energy for the farm, and support the local community."
Operations director Jason Clench said: "It is a huge honour for the whole team. To have a brand that is locally and environmentally kind is at the forefront of everything we do.
"The award is a great validation for everyone involved."
Countryside Alliance awards director Sarah Lee said the awards came at a time when many rural businesses are "working around the clock to rebuild from the turmoil caused by Covid-19".
"They need our support now more than ever and I hope these well-earned titles reinforce just how important the victors are in their respective local communities,” she said.