Rural food heroes are nominated for award

NBENBE101113a2, Fresh basil nominated for award,  Sam Jackson
NBENBE101113a2, Fresh basil nominated for award, Sam Jackson

Two Belper businesses have been recognised in a national awards initiative which aims to keep rural communities alive.

The I Should Cocoa cafe and chocolate shop and Sam Jackson, co-owner of the Fresh Basil deli, have both been put forward for awards by happy customers.

Sam has also recently been announced as a regional finalist in the rural enterprise category.

The Countryside Alliance Awards, which were first known as the Best Rural Retailer Competition when they started in 2005, were created to help prevent rural decline by recognising the businesses that stand out in small communities.

Many food and drink businesses in the Derbyshire area have been nominated and shortlisted in the past.

Sam, 29, said: “It was a complete shock to be honest. I had a letter saying I had been nominated by one of my customers for the awards which give people in the rural community the chance to support small businesses in small towns to stimulate economies.

“I just think it’s nice that a national scheme like this is thinking of small towns like Belper when you usually hear about places in the big cities.

“I’m quite humbled that someone took the time to nominate me – I would like to thank them personally but I have no idea who it was.“

He added: “I’m very lucky. I love the industry as every day is different. It’s also given me some great opportunities such as making my own cheese and appearing on Radio Four and meeting big names like Rick Stein.”

The sixth annual awards have gained a record number of nominations containing businesses, producers and individual characters who have impressed their local peers.

Regional judging will continue until early January, following which regional winners will be announced and invited to the House of Lords to a reception.
At that reception Countryside Alliance chief executive, Alice Barnard, will announce the British champions, who will then be congratulated by parliamentarians.