Suffolk and Essex businesses vie for Countryside Alliance awards

Kirstie Johnston and brother Nick of Forelock and Load at Barrow, which is a regional finalist in tw

Kirstie Johnston and brother Nick of Forelock and Load at Barrow, which is a regional finalist in two categories in the Countryside Alliance Awards. - Credit: Archant

Farm diversifications and countryside businesses in Suffolk and Essex will be hoping to clinch titles next month after making it to the regional finals of the 2016 Countryside Alliance Awards.

Among the East of England’s finalists in the five categories are Ben’s Restaurant in Bury St Edmunds and Maisebrooke Farm, Shipmeadow, Beccles, which will be competing for the local food and drink title.

The Udder Room and Post Office, at Forelock and Load, at Church Road, Barrow, near Bury St Edmunds, is vying for the village shop/post office award, and the Forelock and Load business is also hoping to clinch the farm enterprise title.

The Long Melford Heritage Centre, at Long Melford Village Hall, is a finalist in the tourism enterprise category, while Lavenham Butchers, of Lavenham, and C Humphreys & Sons, of Fairstead, near Braintree, are among four finalists in the butcher category.

The awards event, now in its twelfth year, is aimed at celebrating rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage.

Countryside Alliance Awards director Jill Grieve said: “This has been a record year for nominations, showing how much the public values and supports our hard working rural businessmen and women. For these finalists to get this far is already an exceptional achievement and I look forward to meeting them as judging gets under way. The Rural Oscars were set up to champion those who go the extra mile for their communities and it is an honour to offer a voice to rural business in this way.”

Regional winners will be announced in February, in advance of the national finals, in which winners will be announced at a parliamentary reception on March 22.