Category Archives: awards

WHITE HORSE EXFORD SHORTLISTED FOR COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE AWARDS

The Exmoor White Horse Inn has been shortlisted to win a Countryside Alliance Award in the Pub category.

The Awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of British food and farming, enterprise and heritage through our small hard-working businesses. The awards are now in their fourteenth year and have become the definitive rural business award to win.

They are set apart from other award schemes because they are driven by public nomination, offering customers the chance to say why their favourite businesses are worthy of national acclaim. The awards received over 17,000 nominations this year, so The Exmoor White Horse Inn has done extremely well to be shortlisted.

Serving the Exmoor Community for over 30 years they are now the longest serving licensees in the inn’s 500 year history. Welcoming visitors by wheel by hoof and by foot, the inn is an intrinsic part of the Exmoor National Park.

Countryside Alliance Awards Director Sarah Lee commented: “We have been overwhelmed by nominations this year. The secret to the Rural Oscars’ popularity is that they honour the people involved in these businesses and not just their produce or services. They exist to sing the praises of those who work hard to keep our communities and rural economy ticking, but don’t seek the spotlight. These awards provide a cause for celebration in a time of great uncertainty in the countryside. Our local produce is second to none and there are many community heroes and businesses worthy of national recognition.”

Peter & Linda from The Exmoor White Horse Inn commented: “We are thrilled to have been shortlisted as regional finalist. It is especially gratifying as we are celebrating our 30th year as custodians of The Exmoor White Horse Inn in the heart of the Exmoor National Park.

More information about the awards can be found here.

Photo by Peter Hendrie.

APPLICATIONS ARE INVITED NOW FOR THE 2019 PINNACLE AWARD

The 2019 Pinnacle Award, organised by The Exmoor Society, is now open to young people aged between 18 and 27 years who live, work or study in the Greater Exmoor area.  It offers up to £3,000 to an individual or group who have an idea for a business venture based on Exmoor, for example in agriculture, forestry, food and drink, conservation, horticulture, craft, tourism, or any outdoor land-based activity. 

The Award, now in its eighth year, was set up by The Exmoor Society to help young entrepreneurs live and work on Exmoor. As a conservation body, the Society fully recognises the importance of providing opportunities for young people to continue to live in the area by encouraging entrepreneurial activity.  The award also helps to promote the idea that beautiful landscapes and livelihoods in a National Park do go together.

Previous applications have come from people with ideas as diverse as making cider and developing a herd of pedigree cattle.  The award so far has helped fund young people either to set up or take forward businesses such as agricultural contracting, country clothing and woodland management.  There were three successful applicants in 2018: Polly Goodman, Philip Stephens and Camilla Waterer, who were developing goat meat from local herds, vehicle canopies from lightweight material and horse-drawn carriage rides over the moor for celebrations and special picnics.  All three applicants impressed the judges so much that Trustees decided to offer the full award to each one.

The application process is designed to be accessible to all, with a basic form to complete and a reference provided by a mentor or sponsor.  Applicants will be invited to an informal interview where judges will be looking for business ventures related to Exmoor’s rural character and likely to provide a sustainable living, with perhaps the potential in the future to offer further employment. Chairman of the Society, Rachel Thomas, said: “There is a great deal of concern that young people have to leave Exmoor because of the lack of employment.  By providing seed core money through the Pinnacle Award, the Society hopes to enable them to stay in the area and keep the moor alive and thriving.”

The Society hopes to attract even more entries for the award this year which is now open for applications with the closing date being 30 June 2019.  Forms are available on the Society’s website at www.exmoorsociety.com or by contacting its Dulverton office on 01398 323335, info@exmoorsociety.com.

SWAN IN GASTROPUB TOP 20!

The Swan at Bampton is celebrating after being named for the third year running as one of the top 50 gastropubs in the country at an industry-wide awards ceremony in Maidenhead recently (January 28 2019).

The multi-award-winning pub has polled in at number 20 this year. It received a special award as the highest climber in the list in 2018 when it was rated 28th and in 2017 it was positioned just inside the chart at 50.

Chef-patron Paul Berry, who co-owns The Swan with his wife and fellow award-winning chef Donna, said: “We’re absolutely delighted! It’s a testament to our team, our customers and our suppliers. They are wonderful people and each one of them has a share in this.

“Last year we were ranked as number 28 and the year before we just made it into this elite group of pubs with chefs and teams who are at the very top of their game, so we couldn’t have been happier. But now to be into the top 20, it’s just amazing. We’re in such great company, with the likes of Tom Kerridge’s pub the Hand and Flowers in the top 20 too, it’s just a wonderful feeling and we’re speechless!

“The ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards are voted for by food writers, executive chefs, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators. We’re the industry’s choice and are delighted to be part of these awards again this year.”

The ceremony is organised by the publican’s publication, The Morning Advertiser, which says the top 50 is the definitive list of the best gastropubs in Britain.

Editor of the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs, Nicholas Robinson, said in The Morning Advertiser: “Gastropubs are an example of everything that is great about the UK food and drink scene.

“There’s something phenomenal happening in gastropubs up and down the country, they are growing and maintaining that growth where chains and other restaurants are failing.”

No stranger to accolades, The Swan scooped a plethora of other awards last year, including being named Gold Tourism Pub of the Year 2018 at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards and being voted Best Dining Pub for 2018 in the Trencherman Awards.

The Swan also retained its four AA Gold Stars and two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence in 2018, for the fourth-year-running, and chef-patron Donna Berry was a finalist in both the Devon Life and Trencherman Awards.

To find out more about The Swan, please call 01398 332248 or visit www.theswan.co/.

STOGUMBER SHOP NOMINATED FOR ‘RURAL OSCAR’

A small village shop in rural West Somerset has reached the regional finals of the Countryside Alliance Awards 2019.

Central Stores Stogumber, which is run by Roger Howe, is a local village shop and Post Office in the remote village of Stogumber, which nestles between Exmoor and the Quantock Hills.

The awards, also known as the ‘Rural Oscars’, review thousands of nominations and select nine regional champions from five categories.  The winning five finalists will be given the title of national rural champions in a ceremony attended by MPs and ministers.

This photo was taken about 11 years ago when Roger and Anne took over the shop.

As well as offering Post Office services during the week, Central Stores stocks a wide selection of groceries, provisions and gifts.  The shop is an important hub for the village where people can meet others and find out about what is going on in their local community.  Roger’s additional services include selling tickets for local events, supporting charitable and environmental initiatives, delivering groceries to disabled residents and offering local businesses and craftspeople the chance to promote and sell their products and services within the shop.  Roger’s wife Anne, who is disabled, runs the store’s website and Facebook page and has a particular interest in helping to protect the local environment through recycling initiatives.

“We are so thrilled to have reached the finals of this prestigious competition,” said Roger.  “Central Stores has received nominations from people in the village as well as from those living elsewhere who have used it when on holiday or visiting family, and we are very proud to be a valued hub in the community.”

Find out more about the awards:
www.countryside-alliance.org/campaigns/caawards/

PHOTO AT TOP: Local residents celebrating the publication of Circular Walks around Stogumber, which is available to purchase in Central Stores for £3.

 

GOLDEN TIMES FOR THE SWAN IN BAMPTON AS IT RECEIVES MORE ACCOLADES

The team at an award-winning Devon pub are celebrating this week (December 10, 2018) after receiving more prestigious plaudits and acknowledgements for their food and hospitality.

The Swan, Bampton, retained its four AA Gold Stars and two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence for the fourth-year-running and chef-patron Donna Berry was a finalist in both the Devon Life and Trencherman Awards.

Donna’s husband and co-owner of the gastropub with rooms, Paul Berry, said: “We’re absolutely delighted. November was a very special month for us and these awards and accolades are a marvellous celebration of what we do and what our team delivers.

“We’re super proud of Donna, who was a finalist in not one, but two, major industry awards this autumn. She was up against some of the South West’s best chefs in the Best Chef category in the Trencherman Awards 2019 and it was amazing she was in the top three.

“The other three contenders for the title were Bruce Rennie from The Shore Restaurant, Penzance, Jude Kereama from Kota, Porthleven, and Matthew Beardshall from Wilder in Nailsworth. Jude was crowned the overall winner, but Donna did incredibly well to be listed with these three heavyweights of the culinary world. They are no strangers to the spotlight and you may have seen Jude recently on TV when he just lost out to Tom Brown from Cornerstone in Hackney Wick in London during the Great British Menu.

“Donna was also a finalist in Devon Life’s Best Chef of the Year and narrowly missed out on the top spot to another worthy, local contender: Nicholas Hack from the Cadeleigh Arms in Tiverton. So, it’s been a fabulous November for us and we couldn’t be more delighted with being finalists in these two awards.

“We’re also celebrating another major accolade, as we’ve been awarded two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence for the fourth-year-running and have also retained our AA Four Star Gold Inn status, so we couldn’t be more delighted.”

Two Rosettes are awarded to restaurants that display a consistency in their approach, precision in their cooking and obvious attention to the selection of quality ingredients.

AA Hotel Services’ Hotel & Restaurant Inspector, James Hartley, said: “Congratulations to Paul, Donna and all the team. This is deserved success based upon commitment, consistency and quality. The Swan continues to offer an engaging combination of impressive cuisine, genuine hospitality and cosseting bedrooms, all contributing to a rewarding guest experience.”

The Swan has also received some more good news recently relating to the ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards.

Paul added: “We’ve found out that we’re in the ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub listing for 2019 for the third year running but will not find out our actual placing until January at the official awards event. The top 50 is a big thing for us as it’s recognition on a national level from colleagues within the industry.”

The ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards are voted for by food writers, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators.

“Once again it’s been a wonderful year for us. We’d like to thank our customers, suppliers and the whole team at the pub, everyone is part of this.”

To find out more about The Swan, please call 01398 332248 or visit www.theswan.co.
 

EXMOOR VOLUNTEERS SHORTLISTED FOR UK NATIONAL PARKS AWARD

Volunteers behind a project to restore historic signposts across Exmoor National Park have been shortlisted for the UK National Parks Volunteering Awards 2018. Sponsored by Columbia Sportswear, the award recognises the outstanding contribution that volunteers make in helping care for these precious landscapes and inspiring others to safeguard them for future generations to experience and enjoy.

Two years ago, many of Exmoor’s traditional cast-iron signposts were looking shabby and at risk of falling into disrepair. In response to concern from local communities over the issue, Exmoor National Park Authority teamed up with Heritage Lottery fund and Somerset County Council to fund a project that would recruit volunteers to help restore and refurbish them, and trace their history.

Stuart and Mike are two of the fantastic army of over a hundred volunteers!

Project leader Charlotte Thomas from Exmoor National Park, said: “More than 100 volunteers have contributed to this project, helping with everything from the initial surveys and historical research, to actually painting and refurbishing the signs. We’ve even had people coming forward with bits of old signpost found in outbuildings that are now back in their rightful place, saving hundreds of pounds in restoration costs. Being shortlisted for this award is a great way of celebrating all that’s been achieved by these wonderful volunteers.”

Two other projects from Northumberland and Dartmoor National Parks have been shortlisted alongside Exmoor for the ‘projects’ category – one of four categories of award.

The judging panel this year was made up of the volunteer coordinators from all of the National Parks, who made the following statement: “Judging these awards is a humbling experience as it gives us the opportunity to learn about so many people and projects that are making an immense contribution to the 15 National Parks across the UK. It was a difficult choice this year as there were so many inspiring entries. We’d like to congratulate those who have been shortlisted and we would like to thank everyone who is volunteering to help our staff look after National Parks!”

The winners of each category will be announced at the Kendal Mountain Festival on 17 November 2018. All winners will receive great prizes provided by Columbia Sportswear and £1000 bursary is given to the group and project winners to help their volunteer work.

TOP 100 RANKING FOR THREE ACRES COUNTRY HOUSE EXMOOR

The Visit England Rose Awards 2018 were announced at the Independent Hotel Show in London on Tuesday and one Exmoor establishment was awarded the prestigious accolade of being among the Top 100 accommodation providers in the country.

The national Rose Award is presented to a range of outstanding hotels, B&Bs, guest houses and self-catering establishments, in recognition of their excellence in customer service. Nominations are put forward by Visit England Quality Scheme assessors and selected from assessor comments and feedback from overseas and domestic visitors. Winners are selected by a final judging panel looking for innovation that sets the business apart.

Winners of the title include Exmoor-based Three Acres Country House, a luxury guest house set in secluded peaceful grounds near Dulverton. A family business run by owners Edward and Julie Christian, they are assessed by Visit England who have consistently graded them with the highest ranking of 5 Stars with Breakfast and Gold Awards since 2007.

Edward and Julie Christian commented: “We are delighted that the high standards at Three Acres Country House have been commended because we go to great efforts to provide our guests with a comfortable, relaxed and enjoyable stay on Exmoor. To receive such praise from Visit England, the leading industry body who judge with impartiality, is reassuring both to us and visitors. We are keen to champion the wonders of Exmoor and feel privileged to be in a position to be able to share it with others.”

Three Acres Country House, Brushford, Dulverton, Somerset TA22 9AR
Tel: 01398 323730
www.threeacresexmoor.co.uk
Read more:  www.visitbritain.org/visitengland-announces-winners-2018-rose-awards

SALAD DAYS HUT RECOGNISED IN ‘LOVE YOUR HUT’ AWARDS

Following on from previous tourism award, Salad Days Beach Hut at Dunster Beach has now been recognised in the Love your Hut of the Year competition, coming 3rd in the converted national contest, with beach huts at Mudeford in Dorset and Dovercourt in Essex taking 1st and 2nd place.

Run by the Yorkshire-based specialist hut insurance company, ‘Love your Hut’, the competition is open to entries from all kinds of huts including chalets, beach huts and shepherds huts from all over the UK.

“To be ranked so highly in a major national competition is such an honour, but it does also recognise how far the humble beach hut has come since its lowly beginnings as a Victorian bathing machine,’’ said Brett Bates, co-owner of Salad Days (above).

Salad Days has received numerous accolades since launching in 2016 and has been incredibly successful, having being fully booked for the last two years with many guests returning. Previous awards won include: 2017/18 Visit England Dog Friendly Business of the Year, 2017/18 South West Dog Friendly & Self Catering Business of the Year, 2017/18 Bristol, Bath & Somerset Self Catering & Dog Friendly Business of the Year and 2016/17 Bristol, Bath & Somerset Dog Friendly Business of the Year.

The beach hut has also been ranked by Visit England as 5 stars for the last 2 years, the only beach hut to receive this ranking in the UK. It is 1 of around 260 beach huts at Dunster Beach, a large proportion of which are still holiday lets. Traditionally Dunster Beach has welcomed holidaymakers since the 1930s, and Brett Bates and Susan Juggins are continuing this tradition with Salad Days by offering a high standard of accommodation in a quintessential British beach hut. Brett said, “Our new hut ‘Holi Moli’ – due to be available to rent in March –  is intended to follow in the footsteps of Salad Days, but has some big shoes to fit into, we owe it to Dunster Beach to make sure the huts just get better and better, so watch this space.”

All of the entrants in this year’s ‘Love your Hut’ competition can be seen on the @LoveyourHutoftheYear Instagram page at www.instagram.com/loveyourhutoftheyear

AUTISM-FRIENDLY EXMOOR

Tucked away on the fringes of Exmoor National Park you will find a self-catering farm complex with a difference. North Hayne Farm  is a happy, vibrant business where young children run freely, collecting eggs, bottle-feeding lambs and helping with farm duties. The complex of eight, high-standard, stone-built cottages, however, goes that little bit further as it also specialises in providing holidays for children with autism. North Hayne Farm is the first business in North Devon to achieve the National Autism Society (NAS) ‘Autism Friendly Award’.

Owner Cheryl Dixon, a former early years practitioner and lecturer, began to notice a marked increase in visitors who had children on the autism spectrum back in 2012. Over the following years she saw how these children benefitted from small changes her and her husband Roger made to the website, to the cottages, to the arrival and welcome process and, in particular, to the structured farm routines that were a major part of the holiday experience they offered.

“We wanted to further our understanding and undertook some formal staff training from the Devon Autism Centre. This, together with the support and encouragement from our wonderful visiting families, gave us the confidence to enter for the award,” says Cheryl.  “Autism is no longer that misunderstood condition it once was, and yet so many children with autism and their families struggle to find suitable holidays that can make the world of difference to them all.”

Cheryl and Roger were thrilled to learn that they had successfully achieved the award, and a little surprised to learn that we are the first business in North Devon to attain this. “How great would it be if more businesses could join us in helping to make Devon and Exmoor a more autism-friendly destination?” says Cheryl. “Simple changes to everyday routines can make huge differences but fundamentally two things really make the difference; firstly, remaining non-judgmental when you meet someone who may be on the ‘spectrum’ and therefore behave just that little bit differently to what you might expect, and secondly, taking the time to raise your own awareness of the condition.”

So many of the parents visiting North Hayne Farm who have children on the ASD spectrum comment on little things that will have made such a difference to their overall holiday experience. It might be the assistant who showed such patience or thoughtfulness when queuing for a ride became too difficult, or the waiter who handed out ‘fidget toys’ while their child waited for their meal, or even the person at one of the theme parks who noticed that communication was difficult and began to ‘sign’ instead.

As Cheryl says, “It all makes such a difference and from a tourism point of view makes so much sense. Why go somewhere different when you experience such a positive and understanding approach to your family’s needs right here on Exmoor?”

For more information contact Cheryl Dixon at North Hayne Farm Cottages:  info@northhaynefarmcottages.co.uk

PHOTO: Cheryl and Roger with their award

EXMOOR SOCIETY: EXMOOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR’S AWARD 2018

The 2018 Pinnacle Award, organised by The Exmoor Society, is open to young people aged between 18 and 27 who live, work or study in the Greater Exmoor area. It offers £3,000 to an individual or group who have a business start-up or development plan. Six years ago, The Exmoor Society set up the Award to support young entrepreneurs who wish to stay working on Exmoor, particularly within farming and land-based development, but not exclusively.

As a conservation body, The Exmoor Society fully recognises the importance of providing opportunities for young people to remain on the moor when they enter the world of work. “The Society wants to show that beautiful landscapes and livelihoods can go together by supporting the younger generation, the very essence of keeping Exmoor alive as a national park,” said Rachel Thomas, Chairman.

Previous applications have come from people with ideas as diverse as making cider and developing a herd of pedigree cattle. Winners so far have included young people setting up their own agricultural contracting businesses, entrepreneurs in a country clothing business, low-impact forestry services and a worker in traditional ironwork who wanted to branch out into steel fabrication to meet the demands of the modern market. Last year’s winner, Nick Hosegood, an arborist from Luxborough, is using the award to offer a portable milling service for Exmoor-grown timber.

The Society hopes to attract many entries for the award this year which has a closing date of 30 June 2018. Application forms are available from The Exmoor Society’s office in Dulverton, telephone 01398 323335 and on its website: www.exmoorsociety.com.

PHOTO: Previous winners include Matt Sharp (2015).