Businesses from Rougham and Finchingfield triumph in regional Countryside Alliance Awards

Mike Phillips, co-owner of Heath Farm Suffolk, with the firm's Winner's apron from the East of Engla

Mike Phillips, co-owner of Heath Farm Suffolk, with the firm's Winner's apron from the East of England Countryside Alliance Awards. - Credit: Archant

Rural businesses from Suffolk and Essex have been named among the regional winners in the annual Countryside Alliance Awards.

Katie Mitcham, co-owner of Heath Farm Suffolk.

Katie Mitcham, co-owner of Heath Farm Suffolk. - Credit: Archant

Heath Farm Suffolk, based at Rougham, near Bury St Edmunds, which produces meat from rare and native breeds, has won the Local Food category in the East of England.

And Finchingfield Post Office and Stores, near Great Dunmow, which specialises in fresh local produce, from award-winning beef to artisan gins, is joint winner in the Village Shop & Post Office category for the region, along with Itteringham Village Shop, near Norwich.

Together with the winners from three other categories, they now go forward to the national awards, due to be announced during a ceremony at the House of Lords in Westminster next month.

Katie Mitcham, who is co-owner of Heath Farm Suffolk along with Mike Phillips, said: “We didn’t think we stood a chance because it is such as huge award but I knew we were due to be informed of the result on Friday so I practically hunted the postman down.

?Finchingfield Post Office and Stores.

?Finchingfield Post Office and Stores. - Credit: Archant

“When I opened the parcel the first thing a saw was an apron saying ‘winner’ and I think I burst into tears. To get such an award, and to go to the House of Lords where there is chance we might be the national winner, is incredible.”

Jane Welsh, who runs Finchingfield Post Office and Stores together with Alex Robinson, said: “I think what the Countryside Alliance is doing for rural businesses is brilliant.

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“It is an honour to be going to the House of Lords and we feel that we will be representing the whole village as it was they who nominated us.”

Other regional winners in the awards include Clinks Care Farm from Toft Monks, near Beccles (in the Rural Enterprise category), Coxfords Butchers from Aylsham, Norfolk (Best Butcher), and The Green Man from Ropsley, near Grantham in Lincolnshire (Best Pub).

Other regional finalists from Suffolk and Essex included Otley Village Stores and the White Hart pub, both in Otley, near Ipswich, Willow Tree Farm Shop at Glemsford, near Sudbury, and Maypole Pork, from Bradfield St George, near Bury St Edmunds.

The Countryside Alliance Awards are now in their 13th year. The Grand Final at the House of Lords takes place on Wednesday, April 25.