Rural_2017

Rural firms from across Britain are being invited to get their entries in for an awards scheme designed specifically for the countryside sector.

Now in their third year, the Rural Business Awards (RBAs) are the only UK-wide business awards for rural enterprises. They are sponsored by Janine Edwards Wealth Management Ltd, Principal Partner Practice of St. James’s Place Wealth Management, and operate in partnership with the CLA. The RBAs are split into 13 categories including Best Rural Sporting Business – along with other important aspects of the countryside economy such as Best Rural Diversification Project and Best Rural Manufacturing Business.

At the 2016 awards, the overall Champion of Champions was Landmark Computer Systems, from Sussex, which offers computerised solutions helping its agricultural customers manage their businesses effectively. Other victors included Lowe Maintenance Training from Settle in Yorkshire, which runs forestry courses and was a finalist in our Best Rural Professional Services Business category (which Landmark also won). Gravity Digital, a digital marketing firm from Derbyshire, was the winner for Best Rural Creative Business.

The RBAs are the brainchild of Leicestershire businesswomen Anna Price and Jemma Clifford, who wanted to showcase the wealth of entrepreneurial talent in rural areas of Britain – a sector of the economy they felt was all-too-often overlooked in favour of large city-based firms.

Awards co-founder Anna Price said: “We are so proud to be holding our Rural Business Awards for the third year running. Over the past two years, our judges have read about an extraordinarily diverse range of rural businesses in this category and in all the others, and we have been truly humbled by the amazing work that is being done all over the Great British countryside.

“As for this year’s awards, we urge as many rural businesses to get their entries to us as soon as possible. Entry is so quick and simple that all businesses need to do is tell us what they do best, and we’ll do the rest!”

So just what is a rural business? The CLA defines rural businesses as fitting into three broad categories: land-based businesses; land-related businesses and other businesses located in rural areas. The category list aims to draw together businesses from across these areas to acknowledge the breadth and depth of opportunity presented by the Great British countryside, as well as to celebrate the achievements of our rural businesses.

Backed by a range of high-profile MPs, the awards are organised by rural businesses for rural businesses and judged by people who understand the rural sector, which is growing rapidly and employs in excess of 3.4million people in more than 600,000 businesses across the UK.

With the partnership of the CLA plus the backing of previous winners, the awards founders feel they are once again positioned to generate considerable excitement, interest and pride in the achievements of the rural business sector.

Nigel Parsons, from Landmark Computer Systems, explains why the company entered the awards and the benefits of having won, saying: “The RBAs are a tremendous way of engaging the whole company in a common goal. The amount of work involved to apply is well worth the experience of being able to benchmark your product or service, acknowledge and reward your staff and to involve your customers with the application process. If you are successful, then they have been part of the experience and of course they are why you are successful!

“Internally, recruitment is enhanced for an award winner as any new member to a team can see that you have an industry-wide, national seal of approval. It gives you a point of difference and is easy to communicate through all mediums. The support and enthusiasm from the RBA team is engaging, contagious and ongoing. It is fun to be part of something in farming which is in its infancy and which is gathering momentum.

“Unlike other award schemes the judges have no contact with the applicants. The judging system is well thought through and transparent. Size of business is irrelevant and the diversity of entrants is staggering. We at Landmark wish all entrants the best of luck for the 2017 awards and if there is a tip for making a successful bid I would say, start early and read the guidelines carefully but definitely have a go!”

Demelza Hartley, from Lowe Maintenance Training, explains why success in the RBAs has meant so much: “As a small business, it can sometimes be a hard task seeking out recognition and acknowledgement for the blood sweat and tears that we have to put in during the course of the financial year!

“Through advertising, word of mouth and social media, selling your business can be a hard nut to crack, so hearing about the Rural Business Awards and the chance to demonstrate our uniqueness, successes to date and our vision for the future was an opportunity we could not let pass. The ethos of the awards that runs through all categories and the values entrenched in the rural sector are very much something our business strives to emulate.

“Having been an RBA Runner-up in 2015 and then a finalist last year and to be judged by people who understand the rural sector, was an achievement in itself. With over 600,000 businesses in the sector, it makes you sit back and take stock of the credit that comes from being nominated. The idea of the awards celebrating the achievements of our rural businesses are an example of what our Great British countryside and its people have to offer.”

Sharon Stevens-Cash, director of Gravity Digital, said winning an RBA had been “absolutely fantastic” for business. She said: “The awards were championing the importance of rural business, an ethos that’s really close to our hearts, and we’d seen them covered a lot in the media so as we have a rural base and a strong range of rural clients, we were keen to get involved. These were the first awards we had ever entered, so we were thrilled with the results!

“Winning an award has been absolutely fantastic! People are still talking about the RBAs six months on and there has been a really positive impact on our reputation. We’ve enjoyed lots of coverage in the media and we are thrilled to have won such a prestigious national award.”

Winners in the thirteen categories will be decided by an independent panel of judges drawn from the rural business sector, official agencies and rural charitable organisations. The aim is to grow the scheme to become the UK’s most prestigious and respected awards for countryside-based enterprise.

CLA Director General Helen Woolley said: “The CLA is delighted to once again partner with the Rural Business Awards to highlight the vital contribution that rural businesses make to the countryside and to the wider economy.
“Our ambition for rural areas is no different to the rest of the economy. We want to see investment unlocked, to achieve greater productivity driving growth, the creation of jobs and an improved standard of living across our rural communities. By working with the Rural Business Awards I am confident successful and innovative rural businesses will have the chance to shine.”

Rural Business Award Sponsor, Janine Edwards of Janine Edwards Wealth Management Ltd, Principal Partner Practice of St. James’s Place Wealth Management, said: “As such a highly regarded event, it is an enormous privilege for my team and I to once again be involved in sponsoring the Rural Business Awards. We strongly believe that accomplished companies in the rural sector deserve real recognition and these awards are the perfect way to go about it. The importance of the awards in the rural community is evident through the efforts and great contribution to the economy that the businesses make all year round. Celebrating their accomplishments is a fantastic way of continuing to support this.”

This year’s glittering awards ceremony will be held at Denbies Wine Estates in Surrey on October 5. The application window is now open and entries can be made up to June 30, 2017.

To enter, visit our website: www.ruralbusinessawards.co.uk where you will find details about each category. There is a simple form to fill in and an entry fee of just £50. You can also nominate another business who you think deserves to be recognised in our awards. If you would like help with entering or advice on which category to choose, call us 07908 722 497 or email office@ruralbusinessawards.co.uk

Find out more via social media on:

T: @RuralRBAs

F: The Rural Business Awards

Keep up with the Twitter chatter and use #RBAs.

Our full category list is:

1. Best Rural Start-up
2. Outstanding Rural Diversification Project
3. Best Rural Clothing or Accessories Business
4. Rural Innovation of the year
5. Best Rural Manufacturing Business
6. Best Rural Professional Services Business
7. Best Rural Creative or Media based Business
8. Social enterprise / community project of the year
9. Best Rural Tourism Business
10. Best Rural Sporting Business
11. Rural Employer of the year
12. Rural Entrepreneur of the year
13. Best Food & Drink Business