09 February 2007, 17:09 PM
  • The winners of this year's UK Best Rural Retailers competition, organised by the Countryside Alliance, were revealed during a recent ceremony in London.

The competition, which rewards the best local shops and the quality of products they offer, was split into four categories, Best Local Food Retailer, Best Village Shop/Post Office, Best Traditional Business and Best Diversification.

Over 50 regional winners were gathered to listen to Countryside Alliance chief executive, Simon Hart, and chairman, Kate Hoey MP, announce the winners for each category.

The Best Local Food Retailer award was won by Foxbury Farm Shop & Butchery, in Brize Norton. The shop was hailed for its total commitment to local food. The judges also admired the dedication with which all the products are sourced and all the suppliers visited to make sure everything is up to standard.

David Carr, owner of the Corner Shop, in Longframlington, was already a regional winner last year but reached a new level when he scooped Best Village Shop/Post Office. Simon Hart says, “David is an ideal ambassador not just for his community, but for local shop-keepers everywhere. He has been burgled 14 times and during FMD saw a 25% drop in business, but remains undaunted.”

It was a family run outlet making country sports and other traditional clothing, which came out winner of the Best Traditional Shop award. The shop, Alexander James, in Pendlebury, prides itself in only using British textiles, hand-tailoring rather than machinery and a traditional approach to customer service.

Finally, Langthorne’s Buffalo Produce was recognised for Best Diversification. “Paul Langthorne’s son, Andrew, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the young age and could not have cow’s milk, so dairy farmer Paul brought a buffalo for the milk and realised an opportunity for diversification,” says Simon Hart. Mr Langthorne now has a 250-strong buffalo herd, as well as elk, wild boar, yak and emu.

Also, honoured were Rhug Organic Farm Shop, in Corwen, Abbotts Ann Village Shop Association, Cold Hanworth Forge and Low Sizergh Barn, which were all Highly Commended by the jury.