LAST Wednesday (13 March) was a highlight in the Countryside Alliance calendar; the Parliamentary Reception in London for the Countryside Alliance Awards, aka the Rural Oscars.
Regional Champions from across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales gathered to celebrate rural life, and Countryside Alliance were honoured that the Secretary of State for DEFRA (and former Northern Ireland, Secretary of State) Owen Paterson MP, spoke to the gathering and, alongside our Chairman Kate Hoey MP, handed out the overall UK & Ireland Awards.
Mr Paterson paid tribute to the contribution that small businesses make to the rural economy, saying: “Rural businesses are vital to the country’s economic recovery. The Government is right behind them. We are backing aspiration and giving entrepreneurs the support they need to create jobs and support thriving local communities.”
Mr Paterson was a part of the judging panel that selected the UK & Ireland Champions – a harder job than ever before in a record year which saw 4,500 nominations pour in. He was aided in the task by a wealth of experience: cook and food champion Clarissa Dickson Wright; Philip Johnston of the Daily Telegraph; Master Butcher David Lidgate; Emma Penny of Farmers Guardian and Chris Dewbury of Hunter Boot.
Unfortunately, this year did not see an overall UK and Ireland Champion Award for any of the Ireland regional finalists. However, Cloughmills Community Action Team & Incredible Edibles from County Antrim were Highly Commended in the Enterprise Category.
Lyall Plant, chief executive, Countryside Alliance Ireland, said: “Once again, I must say how delighted I was with the calibre of Irish entrants for this year’s Awards. It is only fitting and proper that they are rewarded with the recognition that they so richly deserve. Our finalists had a great day at the Parliamentary Reception in London and I wish them continued success.”
Guide to Improving Habitat for Wildfowl
The Countryside Alliance is pleased to announce the publication of “A Guide to Improving Habitat for Wildfowl”. The guide features examples and case studies drawn from the shooting community over the last decade which highlight the vital, but often largely unseen, contribution that shooting plays in maintaining and enhancing wetland habitats.
The guide was commissioned to assist land and shoot managers in enhancing the environment and their shooting. Created by Thyme Consultants on behalf of the Countryside Alliance, it is not intended to be a detailed technical manual but rather a practical look at the options available to shoots with wetland areas. A wide range of wetland habitats are investigated, from saltmarsh to ponds, scrapes and ditches. The guide may be viewed and downloaded at – www.caireland.org.