Back in October I blogged about how delighted I was to have been nominated for the Countryside Alliance Awards for 2012. The Countryside Alliance's unique annual celebration of rural life, produce and communities. Nicknamed "The Rural Oscars" these awards are broad in scope, highly coveted and a great morale boost to those in the running. The Countryside Alliance is the leading voice of rural Britain, and their Awards complement their wide ranging support and promotion of rural life.
The Countryside Alliance Awards started life in 2005 as the Best Rural Retailer competition. They were borne of a need to support and promote rural communities and to acknowledge the efforts of thousands of unsung heroes who routinely go above and beyond the call of duty for their communities. The Countryside Alliance had long felt the "doom and gloom" tales of rural decline about dwindling services, a collapsing farming sector and the death of village life did not accurately reflect the spirit of rural people and their desire to protect our landscapes, heritage and communities for future generations.
Unfortunately I was not shortlisted for the Regional Finals but I was more than happy to have got a far as I did. A few weeks after the short list was announced I was sent an email asking me whether I would like to attend the Winner’s Reception at The House of Lords as a “Rural Hero”!
Alongside the main retail categories of the Countryside Alliance Awards, they also run a Rural Hero Award. This is awarded to a character rather than an outfit, but the ethos is very much the same in that it is awarded to someone who loves the countryside and goes above and beyond the call of duty for its proserity and future. Finalists are community minded, intent on educating the next generation and genuine ambassadors for country life.
I had been keeping this very quiet until the official invitation arrived as it was almost too good to be true! Well today I got home to find a letter waiting for me with the title “CONGRATULATIONS YOU ARE A RURAL HERO!” This part of the awards is not something which the public could nominate for. The Rural Hero category is based solely on an individual’s endeavour and will recognise those who love the countryside.
I am extremely honoured to have been given such a prestigious title and will hopefully be able to use this to help further promote our countryside and the rural way of life.
A huge thank you to those of you who may have nominated me for the awards and for all your continued support!