Leading businesses in the North East are battling it out for a sought-after place in the final of a prestigious national competition.
The Countryside Alliance Awards, dubbed the Rural Oscars, recognise quality of rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage through small hard-working businesses.
Regional finalists in the 2013 Countryside Alliance Awards have now been announced, with top businesses vying for a North East title and the chance to go forward to the grand final in London.
R Green & Son, of Longframlington, Northumberland, are one of the businesses short-listed for the best butcher category. It is the fourth year that the company has entered the award.
Chris Green said: “We have won the regional heat for the previous two years but we have not yet won the national award.
“We are doing very much the same thing and it would be nice if we could win the regional heat again and go through to the final.
“I firmly believe that the Countryside Alliance Awards are very important. A lot of people do not recognise how important the rural economy is - it plays a large part in the city economy.”
The awards are now in their ninth year and have become the definitive rural business award to win. They run across four categories: Local Food; Village Shop/ Post Office; Butcher and Start-up.
Finalists are selected from the thousands of nominations received, and will now be judged, with a winner in each category being declared in the new year.
Jill Grieve, from the Countryside Alliance, said: “The Countryside Alliance Awards are now in their ninth year of giving rural businesses and communities a platform and a voice.
“We are delighted by the diversity and obvious passion of North East businesses and look forward to hearing more about what makes them tick as judging gets underway.
“This year’s shortlist displays what is important to people in the region – some of the best produce in the country, strong community values and support for other local businesses.
“I wish everyone luck in this our annual celebration of rural life.”
Regional champions go through to the Grand Final to be held at Parliament in April next year.