Awards for rural goods

ENTERPRISES in Northumberland have been recognised for their success with regional accolades.

The North East of England winners in this year’s Countryside Alliance Awards included Blagdon Farm Shop (Butcher Champion) and The Kitchen Garden at Meldon Park (Best Start-Up).

They will now go forward to UK & Northern Ireland finals at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, on April 30.

Blagdon Farm Shop opened 11 years ago and it added the butchery section 18 months later.

Butchery manager Simon Osborne said: “We’re absolutely elated to receive this award, especially as we were up against some tough competition.

“Our mantra is that we try to do things a little better than we did yesterday and that has served us well over the years. We also have a strong commitment to apprentices as it’s important to develop the next generation of butchers.

“We have maintained the upturn in trade that we received after the horsemeat scandal as customers know where our meat comes from.”

Anne-Marie Trevelyan judged the North East awards.

She said: “Blagdon always has wonderful produce and the butchery counter is a must-visit, offering a wide range of the finest meat Northumbria can offer.

“Simon and his team work hard with other farmers so that the taste and quality cannot be beaten and the best-selling Blagdon banger needs to be tasted to be believed.”

The luxury cafe at Meldon Park, run and managed by Emily Cookson, offers a wide range of home-cooked light lunches, cakes, scones and proper afternoon teas. The Kitchen Garden also has a shop that sells kitchen goods, plants and garden items.

Mrs Cookson said: “A lot of hard work has gone into making the Kitchen Garden a success and it is great that rural businesses like ours have received this kind of recognition.

“The local community has been very supportive, both coming in as customers and supporting our initiatives and fund-raising.

“We have a good, hard-working team of staff and this award is a pat on the back for them.

“We are proud that we support local suppliers and we also produce our own fruit, vegetables and meat from the estate.”

Mrs Trevelyan added: “The walled garden itself is a beautiful spot and the cafe and gift shop enhance it in a very sympathetic way, supporting local producers and suppliers and providing a really attractive destination with a lovely menu.

“This is an impressive start-up that I am very proud to put before the national judging panel.”