Three county businesses win awards

Three businesses in the north of the county have been named as finalists in regional awards celebrating the best of rural life.

Stanwick companies The Shop@Stanwick and CR Potters, along with Lancaster Farm Shop in Higham Ferrers, are in the last 12 for the East Midlands final of the Countryside Alliance Awards.

Chris Potter, owner of CR Potter's, which is nominated in the butcher category, said: "This is exciting news. We pride ourselves on top quality meat and a personal service.

"Customers can talk to the butchers and discuss and ask for special requirements."

Steve Ware, one of the owners of The Shop@Stanwick which appears in the Village Shop and Post Office category, said: "It's brilliant. It's totally customer led, we can't apply for it, the customers have to put us forward. It's a real celebration of rural life and we get 100 per cent support from our customers."

Tracy Castles, a judge, said: "Judging these awards is always a pleasure because of the charming characters I meet.

"The rural economy continues to go through tough times, but these small businesses have the passion and commitment to keep going no matter what, and their communities appreciate them because of it."

The regional winners will be announced in January. They will go forward to the national final in March.

The county has already seen success in the competition in previous years.

Last year's East Midlands champions included this year's finalists The Shop@Stanwick and Muddy Matches, based in Podington, which took the Rural Enterprise Award.

Launched in March 2007, Muddy Matches is the online dating service for country loving people.

Founded by sisters Lucy and Emma Reeves, Muddy Matches showed how rural businesses are increasingly embracing social networking and online marketing to spread their message beyond their rural community.