Going for glory in gongs

FINALISTS have been announced in the region’s ‘rural Oscars’, and two local businesses are vying for honours.

The annual North East Countryside Alliance Awards are now in their ninth year of celebrating rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage.

Businesses are nominated for the gongs by customers in four categories – Local Food, Village Shop/Post Office, Butcher and Start-up, and the regional winners have the chance to go on to a national final.

This year, thousands of nominations have been received and judges have narrowed them to a shortlist.

Blagdon Farm Shop has made it through in the best Butcher category and will battle it out with North Acomb Farm Shop, R Green and Son from Longframlington and William Peat Butchers and Deli in Barnard Castle to claim the title.

Meanwhile, the Kitchen Garden at Meldon Park near Morpeth has made the shortlist of the Start-up category. It will compete against Zen Baker in Bellingham, Wyld Fire in Kielder and the Stone Cottage Bakery in Alnwick.

The winners will be announced in the New Year and the national Grand Final will be held in Parliament in April. The Blagdon shop, which is based at the Milkhope Centre, is hoping to build on its success in the recent Smithfield Awards.

The outlet scored double gold awards in the national product evaluation showcase for Q Guild butchers with its Pork and Wasabi Sausage and seasonal Santa’s Spicy Christmas Chipo.

Some 360 individual products were submitted for the awards, which were presented by celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli at a ceremony in London.