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Seven Cumbrian firms win at regional Amazon Rural Business Awards

Winners Group

No fewer than seven rurally based firms from beautiful Cumbria won their categories at the northern regional heats of the UK-wide Rural Business Awards.

In a remarkable night for Cumbrian business, the companies were handed their awards at a glittering ceremony held at the Last Drop Village in Bolton on October 9.

Sassy Property Styling, of Wigton, won Best Rural Professional Services Business; Rusland Horizons Landscape Partnership in the High Furness Fells won Social Enterprise, Charity or Community Project of the Year; A Corner of Eden based near Ravenstonedale won Best Rural Tourism Business; Newlands Adventure Centre from Stair won Best Recreational our Outdoor Business; Country Puddings of Dacre won Best Rural Food Business; Trolle Trading Ltd of Ulverston won Best Rural Drink Business and Westmorland Homecare won Best Rural Start-Up.

Following their impressive wins at the regional awards, the seven companies will now go on to represent the region at the national final in February 2019.

Sassy Property Styling Ltd – Winner, Best Rural Professional Services Business

Anne and Steve Sowerby

Anne Sowerby’s business provides affordable property styling to transform homes into, as she puts it, “a show stopper, guaranteed to gain more viewings and achieve the best selling price”.

Based in rural Wigton, she is the only house doctor consultant living in Cumbria and her business seeks out and uses products that are not harmful to the environment, being agents for The Little Green company endorsed by the National Trust. Having herself grown up in Cumbria, Anne is also passionate about buying from local suppliers and using local traders for her soft furnishings, curtains, upholstery, building materials and flooring.

Sassy Property Styling owner, Anne Sowerby, said: “Set up five years ago, Sassy Property Styling provides affordable property styling that will transform any home into a show stopper, guaranteed to gain more viewings and achieve the best selling price. The Rural Business Awards have been a wonderful experience for us, and we really recommend other businesses to consider entering – you never know, you might even win!”

Rusland Horizons Landscape Partnership – Winner, Social Enterprise, Charity or Community Project of the Year

Danni Chalmers, Colin Barr and Clare Dyson celebrate success at the RBA awards ceremony

Rusland Horizons is one of the first community-led Landscape Partnership Schemes to be funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). It covers a rural and densely wooded area known historically as part of the High Furness Fells in the southern region of the Lake District National Park – landscape which historically inspired cultural figures like John Ruskin and Arthur Ransome.

Between 2016 and 2019, the project is carrying out a range of projects to revive traditional skills, and to learn about, enhance and enjoy the area’s heritage, habitats and wildlife. With 15 landscape projects and more than 300 volunteers, the partnership employs and trains young apprentices, supports land managers, trains local volunteers and provides learning opportunities for schools with the aim of enabling people to experience and learn about heritage skills to manage landscape.

Colin Barr, Chairman of RH Partnership commented: “At Rusland Horizons we are carrying out a range of projects to revive traditional skills, and to learn about, enhance and enjoy the heritage, habitats and wildlife of our part of the High Furness Fells.

“Our work is led by the community, and this award will mean so much to everyone involved in the landscape partnership. Programmes like the Rural Business Awards are vital to highlight the incredible work of the organisations striving to preserve the British landscape for future generations.”

A Corner of Eden – Winner, Best Rural Tourism Business

Rural Best Rural Tourism Business Winner – A Corner of Eden

A Corner of Eden is a chic self-catering retreat just outside Ravenstonedale village on the edge of the Eden Valley. The three properties sit together in six acres of land at the end of their own lane and are surrounded by fields lined with miles of dry-stone walls where Swaledale, Herdwick and Rough Fell sheep roam.

Traditional farming methods can be seen from the cottages such as outdoor lambing, hay timing, dry-stone walling and sheep dog handling. The business is run as sustainably as possible and has won awards for its eco-friendly build and low-carbon approach, with ground-source heat pump, PV panels, a biomass boiler and local sheep’s wool insulation, grant-aided by RDPE (Rural Development Programme for England). Owners Debbie and Richard Greaves have also been developing wildlife habitats over the years and are now seeing barn owls moving back plus increasing numbers of red squirrels and a yearly improvement in wildflower species.

A Corner of Eden joint owner, Debbie Greaves said: “At A Corner of Eden, we do everything we can to enable our guests to take a break from their busy lives, and to reconnect with each other and the environment. We are so thrilled that our hard-work and dedication has been recognised with the award for the Best Rural Tourism Business. We hope that this success will inspire others to follow in our footsteps, creating holiday accommodation that stands out from the crowd.”

Newlands Adventure Centre – Winner, Best Rural Recreational or Outdoor Business

Best Rural Recreational Or Outdoor Pursuits Business Winner – Newlands Adventure Centre

Based in Stair, near Derwent Water, Newlands Adventure Centre offers outdoor activity adventures and experiences for school trips, groups, families and individuals, with thousands taking the ‘Newlands Challenge’ – often experiencing what the outdoors can offer for the first time. Surrounded by fells, lakes and ghylls, Newlands is a family business initially set up in 1905 to provide fresh air holidays for workers in the industrial north.

Just four miles from Keswick, the Newlands Valley is not on any bus route and, with its scattered farms and lack of village, is a spread-out community. This remoteness is what brings people back to the centre year on year. Its activities operate on the fells, lakes and streams with which it is surrounded, and environmental awareness is included in instructors’ training. The centre also holds many national environmental awards such as the Green Tourism Business Scheme Gold Standard and donates a working day with 20 staff to help repair footpaths and drains on local fells as part of the Fix The Fells charity.

Debbie Beament, Director of Newlands Adventure Centre said: “Set up in 1905 to offer fresh air holidays for industrial workers, we have helped thousands of people to experience what the great outdoors has to offer. Our guests experience not only our thrilling activities, but the simple pleasure of being in the heart of our stunning mountains and lakes.

“We are proud of the work we do and our commitment to sustainability, and we are so pleased this dedication has been recognised by the Rural Business Awards.”

Country Puddings Ltd – Winner, Best Rural Food Business

Best Rural Food Business Winner – Country Puddings Ltd

Country Puddings is based on a small family farm nestled on the edge of Dacre Village in the Lake District.

Making traditional favourite British puddings and custard sauces for independent retailers, catering wholesalers and grocery multiples in the UK and overseas, the company was started in 2000 when farmer’s wife and mum-of-two Lynne Mallinson was looking for a way of earning some income beyond the farm.

From humble farmhouse beginnings, Lynne then expanded into a purpose built 3000 sq ft industrial kitchen just a mile away. Using milk from the farm, Country Puddings now has a range of 18 puddings and sauces and boasts 16 Great Taste awards. With the whole family involved in the business, son Rory has now returned to work on the farm full-time and the family has restocked its dairy herd after 11 years without them – they are proud to be bucking the national dairy farming decline.

Lynne Mallinson, Founder and MD, said: “We are thrilled to receive the award for Best Rural Food Business. Country Puddings started life in 2000 on our small family farm in the Lake District. The family business has grown rapidly ever since.

“The business was created out of the desire to share the joy of proper puddings, and this latest success really shows what you can achieve with a passion for your work!”

Trolle Trading Limited trading as Kin Toffee Vodka – Winner, Best Rural Drink Business

Kin Toffee + Vodka Spirit drink was created by Judith Wren in 2013, inspired by tasting a toffee vodka whilst skiing. The daughter of “foodie” farmers, Judith has based her company in the Old Smithy – a 200-year-old building at the family home in Ulverston. It started as a hobby and most early production was given to friends. Feedback from those first recipients was so positive, production commenced. Brand ‘Kin’ was created and promoted through the Lake District and was an immediate success. In following years successful promotion at increasing numbers of food festivals and shows spread the word. Production on a larger scale was necessary and stockists have increased on a regular basis.

Sharon Marshall, Trolle Trading’s Business Development Manager said: “At Trolle Trading Limited, we will always be rural and Cumbrian. It makes us very proud to be able to support ourselves and others in an area where jobs are not always easy to find. We are proud of our heritage and so feel honoured to receive the award for Best Rural Drink Business. Businesses like ours are vital to support rural communities, and we’ve loved being part of the Rural Business Awards, which celebrate such a wide variety of rural businesses.”

Westmorland Homecare – Winner, Best Rural Start-Up

Westmorland Homecare was founded in 2017 by doctors Josh Macaulay and Chris Moss. Both had experience of caring for people in their NHS roles: an A&E doctor and anaesthetist.

They witnessed people come into hospital after having poor care at home and saw them unable to return home because the right support wasn’t available for them. They believe people should not be forced into care homes and nursing homes.

Every individual should be free to remain in their home, as long as they wish, to be as active and independent as ever and continue to have rich and fulfilling lives. To that end, Westmorland strives to be the homecare provider of choice by changing lives, promoting wellbeing and delivering excellence at every opportunity from their head office in Kendal.

Now they aim to create satellite offices to better serve clients, boosting local employment and providing a local base for clients and families.

Caroline Gunning, Westmorland Homecare’s Care Manager said: “Westmorland Homecare was borne out of the belief that everyone has the right to remain in their own home for as long as possible. We are passionate about working in and supporting rural communities across Cumbria, and are so incredibly honoured to have all our hard-work recognised by the Rural Business Awards. As a year-old start-up we hope that this award is a sign of great things to come.”

In addition to the seven prize-winners, Cumbria was further represented with five other shortlisted finalists from the county.

Now in its fourth year, the Rural Business Awards is the only UK-wide programme dedicated to showcasing the success of rural businesses. It is run in partnership with Amazon.

“Rural communities are home to some of the country’s most inventive and innovative entrepreneurs and we want to celebrate their achievements and contribution through the Rural Business Awards,” said Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon. “I’d like to congratulate all the nominees and runners-up at this year’s regional awards and wish the winners the best of luck ahead of the national final of the Rural Business Awards in February.”

The Amazon Rural Business Awards is the brainchild of Leicestershire businesswomen Anna Price and Jemma Clifford, who wanted to showcase the wealth of entrepreneurial talent in rural areas of Britain – a sector of the economy they felt was all-too-often overlooked in favour of large, city-based firms.

The awards are organised by rural business for rural business, with winners in the 13 categories – ranging from Best Rural Start-up and Outstanding Rural Diversification Project; through to Best Rural Professional Services Business and Rural Education or Training Business – decided by an independent panel of judges drawn from the rural business sector, rural public sector agencies, and rural charitable organisations.

The Northern regional awards are sponsored by Openreach, which also sponsors the Best Rural Start-Up category. The sponsor for Best Rural Food Business is Idealogy.

For the first time since launching, this year the Rural Business Awards is hosting a series of regional finals in the North, East, Midlands, South East, South West, Wales and Northern Ireland, throughout October 2018, ahead of the Grand Final next February.

Awards co-founder Jemma Clifford said: “Anna and I are so proud to be hosting the fourth annual Rural Business Awards together with Amazon. When we started the Awards we wanted to shine a much-needed light on successful rural firms but the success of the RBAs is beyond what we ever imagined. We were blown away with the diversity of our entries this year so winning any of the categories is an extraordinary achievement – hearty congratulations to all seven prize-winners from Cumbria.”

To find out more, visit www.ruralbusinessawards.co.uk

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