THE winners of the annual awards for businesses supporting rural Britain have been announced.

Three Sussex businesses have received national titles in the Countryside Alliance awards, or the "Rural Oscars".

The awards, which began in 2006, aim to commend British businesses that "go the extra mile", who support their local economy and are unsung heroes in every community.

They are led by public nominations, covering seven categories: village shop/post office, local food and drink, rural enterprise, pub, butcher, game and the Clarissa Dickson Wright award.

Previous judges have included Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom, and Liz Truss.

The Argus:

From over 18,000 public nominations, Hunter Gather Cook based in East Sussex, was announced as national "game champion".

Cottenham's of Lindfield won the highly commended award in the best butcher category, while Lodsworth Larder received the same award in the best village shop/ post office category.

Countryside Alliance awards director, Sarah Lee said: “Our judges have had a particularly difficult time singling out winners from thousands and thousands of entries.

"These awards come at a time when many rural businesses are working around the clock to rebuild from the turmoil caused by Covid-19.

"They need our support now more than ever and I hope these well-earned titles reinforce just how important the victors are in their respective local communities.”

The Argus:

Now in their fifteenth year the awards have become the rural business award to win and are driven by public nomination, offering customers the chance to tell judges why their favourite businesses are worthy of national acclaim.

Based on a 40 acre farm near Lewes, Hunter Gather Cook was described by the deciding judge as being “all about adventures with wild food".

"They are a foraging and cookery school that specialises in game butchery, wild cocktails and outdoor cookery.

"The courses are designed to teach participants how to identify, process and cook a range of wild plants and animals to a high standard.

"The team feel that to really learn about wild food you have to immerse yourself in the outdoors completely.”

The judge added: “Everything from butchery to brewing is conducted in the woods to ensure a great learning experience that will ensure you view the surrounding landscape as your very own larder.”

The Argus: Lodsworth Larder in West Sussex won the Highly Commended award in the ‘Best Village Shop/ Post Office’ category.

Both Cottenham's and Lodsworth Larder won regional awards in their respective categories earlier this year.

After a further round of judging, both sets of teams can now add the national highly commended to their collection of titles.

Cottenham's was described by judges as: “Passionate about ensuring all his customers’ needs are met, while at the same time ensuring they only serve the best meat and game.

"From shooting their own venison to ensure its provenance to only working with farmers that raise their animals with care and skill while also looking after the local environment.

"They take great pride in their work and describe themselves as ‘old school’ but we would say with a modern twist.”

Lodsworth Larder was described as: “A cross between a general village store and a farm shop. It prides itself on stocking produce from local nurserymen, bakers and butchers.

"It has also been a friendly face to all which has been so important to many over the last year. It is a tribute to all the volunteers hard work that this vital community shop has been going 10 years.”

Due to the Covid- 19 pandemic, judging this year has been virtual and the organisation is celebrating the annual event with an online reception.

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