CAI ‘Rural Oscars’ 2012 – Ireland’s winners announced

THE regional winners for the Countryside Alliance Awards, nicknamed the ‘Rural Oscars’, have been announced.

These awards celebrate the characters, skills and dedication of the people who keep the countryside alive through enterprise and good quality produce and services. The awards are public-nomination led, meaning each business is put forward by a supportive customer. Judging of the finalists has now taken place and the winners for each region announced.

Lyall Plant, chief executive of Countryside Alliance Ireland, commented: “These awards showcase the depth of commitment exhibited by Ireland’s enterprises and businesses and their contribution to the rural community.

“Countryside Alliance Ireland is extremely proud to be able to acknowledge and celebrate some of Ireland’s best businesses and enterprises and the wonderful produce that is generated here. We hope this accolade will show each winner how appreciated they are as they continue to provide their valuable services to the rural and urban communities. We also wish to thank everyone who took the time to nominate the entrants, as without them, these awards would not exist.”

Ireland’s rural champions for 2012 are:

Local Food Category Champion

Bruces Hill Farm Shop, Ballymena

Bruces’ rear their own pork and award winning Dexter beef. The proprietor builds on his experience in third-world development funding in his focus on ethical aspects of food production and community-centred business. They provide excellent customer service, sell high quality produce and are leading the way in County Antrim’s artisan food culture.

Village Shop Category Champion

Rathlin Co-op, Rathlin Island

The Rathlin Co-op is a wholly volunteer led initiative which strives to meet the needs of the Island’s residents. It is clear the shop is vital to the island as it supports many residents who would struggle otherwise.

Highly Commended: Dunloy Village Shop, Ballymena

Enterprise Category Champion

Cloughmills Community Action Team and Incredible Edibles, County Antrim

This Cloughmills enterprise demonstrates an extraordinary commitment and dedication to improving the quality of life of the village’s residents through food. The team educates people on how to grow and produce their own food therefore reducing waste and saving money.

Highly Commended: Trail Kilkenny, County Kilkenny

Butcher Category Champion

Martin Divilly Butchers, Galway

Divilly’s butcher has the championing of local food at its core. Their products are all sourced within Connaught and the speciality is their own dry aged Galway beef. The shop has a friendly, welcoming atmosphere and Martin and his team are dedicated to meeting customer needs.

This strong line up of businesses will now go forward to the grand final which will be held at the Houses of Parliament in London on 13th March 2013. At the grand final, the overall UK and Ireland champions will be announced.