Rural shops in line for award

A handful of county businesses have beaten off competition from thousands of organisations to be named regional finalists for a prestigious set of awards.

The Countryside Alliance Awards is now in its fifth year and celebrates the characters, skills, traditions and enterprise of people working in the countryside.

Among the regional finalists in this year's village shop and post office category is Gretton Post Office and The Shop@Stanwick, which came second in the national finals last year.

Shop@Stanwick postmaster Vernon Frost said: "We're elated to have made it through to the regional finals – it means a lot to us because businesses are nominated for the award by their customers.

"Last time we made it to the national finals and we're determined that this time we're going to make it to the national finals in London again and we're not coming home until we've got the award for our customers."

Another business which is celebrating is online dating agency for country-minded people Muddy Matches in Podington, which has also made it through to the regional finals in the rural enterprise category for the second year in a row.

Lucy Reeves, who launched the business with her sister Emma two years ago, said: "We are delighted to have been nominated again this year.

"We won the regional finals last year but we didn't win the national title.

"We'll have to wait to see how we get on this time."

Countryside Alliance East Midlands judge Tracy Casstles said all 12 regional finalists had done incredibly well to make it so far.

She said: "These finalists represent the very best of the region and I know that judging winners in each category is going to be very tough.

"The awards are an opportunity to celebrate not just the hard work that goes into businesses in the countryside, but also the heart and character of every individual who contributes to rural enterprise."

Other regional finalists from Northamptonshire include Creaton Post Office, Elliotts of Daventry and Hunts Butchers of Greens Norton.