Four rural businesses in the North East have won awards for the service they provide to their communities.
The businesses, all of which are in Northumberland, have been chosen as regional winners of the Countryside Alliance Awards, which recognise firms that provide a lifeline to rural communities.
All four will now go on as finalists in the Alliance’s national awards, which will presented at the end of April.
The local food category in the North East was won by Sunnyhills Farm Shop in Belford, which has been run by the same family since 1973 and now combines a farm shop with a butchers, a deli, cafe and children’s play area.
Awards judge Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a Northumberland businesswoman who is the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Berwick, said: “The family have evolved the business in this way, as they say themselves, ‘to allow us to showcase the best of local produce and to create a retail environment for both visitors to Northumberland and our local community’.
“There is no nobler aim and Sunnyhills is an exceptional ambassador for farming, other producers and the enjoyment of local produce.”
The village shop and post office section was won by Bardon Mill Village Store and Tea Room, which was commended for being the “heart of the community”.
Blagdon Farm Shop won the butcher category, winning praise for “offering a wide range of the finest meat Northumbria can offer”.
And the start-up award went to the Kitchen Garden at Meldon Park, with Mrs Trevelyan saying: “The walled garden itself is a beautiful spot and the café 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. Emily is involved in local charities, showing the total support her business gives to the surrounding area. This is an impressive start-up that I am very proud to put before the national judging panel.”