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Welsh Businesses Win National Rural Awards

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Four Wales-based companies have been named among the best rural businesses in the country after winning a national Amazon-sponsored Rural Business Awards.

Crwst was named best Rural Start Up, Birchall Access Consultancy won Best Rural Professional Services Business, Cwmni Cymunedol Cletwr Cyf won Rural Social Enterprise, Charity or Community Project of the Year, and Adventure Parc Snowdonia from Snowdonia was awarded the Founders’ Award at the national final of the Rural Business Awards, in association with Amazon, at Chateau Impney in Droitwich Spa. The national win follows the companies’ triumphs at the regional heats of the Rural Business Awards last year.

Crwst began in 2016 as a micro bakery in a cottage in rural Wales. Created by Catrin and Osian Jones, Crwst has gone from selling home baked products at local markets, to supplying nearby stores. The couple have now opened their own eatery in Cardigan offering contemporary dining and coffee based on France’s ‘boulangerie’ culture. Catrin and Osian have grown their business to hire more than thirty staff and attract visitors from all over Wales and beyond to their base in Cardigan.

Birchill Access Consultancy, from Aberystwyth, is a professional, dynamic company providing a range of land management services. They specialise in public rights of way, common land, village greens and countryside access. The company is led by Claire Goodman-Jones who has worked in land management throughout the UK for over fifteen years.

Cletwr opened as a community business in 2013, in a former shop/cafe. In September 2017 they moved into a new purpose-built building, funded by the BIG Lottery, Welsh Government and the EU. The business side provides a village shop and cafe, which is also very popular with travellers. But the core of the project is the community. The area had virtually no public facilities, and locals had nowhere to meet and make friends. Cletwr fills that need, through a wide range of activities, services and through opportunities for more than 50 regular volunteers.

Adventure Parc Snowdonia opened in 2015 to offer surfing and outdoor activities. Since then it has grown to feature biking trails, bouldering and an adventure park. The company has plans to build a 106-bedroom lagoon-side hotel, a wellness spa and develop conference facilities.

Now in its fourth year, the Rural Business Awards is the only UK-wide programme dedicated to showcasing the success of rural businesses. It is run in partnership with Amazon.

Speaking after picking up the top award, Catrin Jones, Director at Crwst, said: “The last few years have been such an exciting journey for us, and we can’t quite believe that we have won the National Rural Business Award for Best Rural Start Up! We established Crwst to create somewhere special for our local community to gather, and are proud to bring a fresh modern feel to a traditional rural town. We are driven by our passion for food, offering a wide variety of seasonal produce made in-house, as well as supporting many other local food producers. We are incredibly proud to have won this award, and can’t wait to find out what the future holds for our business.”

Claire Goodman-Jones, Director of Birchill Access Consultancy said:

“I am thrilled to have won the National Rural Business Award for the Best Rural Professional Services Business category. The business operates in the very specialised area of public rights of way and access management, and we approach each one of our clients’ issues with a wealth of experience, knowledge and professionalism. The rural sector faces many challenges, and I are so proud of the work the business does to enable its clients to thrive. I have had a great experience with the Rural Business Awards, and receiving this award makes tonight even more special.”

Nigel Callaghan, Chairperson at Cwmni Cymunedol Cletwr Cyf, said:

“We are honoured to have won the Rural Social Enterprise, Charity or Community Project. Since Cletwr began five years ago, it has grown into an immensely successful cafe, shop and community hub, running events to bring people together. As rural services are disappearing, it is social enterprises and charities that are stepping into the gap. The Rural Business Awards do a great job of promoting the important work of these organisations. This award will mean so much to our local community, and we can’t wait to celebrate with them.”

Justin Everley, Commercial Director at Adventure Parc Snowdonia said:

“We are honoured to have been given The Founders’ Award, alongside recognition in the Best Rural Recreational or Outdoor Pursuits Business category. We are so pleased that the founders of the RBAs saw something unique in Adventure Parc Snowdonia. Our innovative inland surf lagoon brings thousands of visitors each year to this remote part of Wales, and are passionate about introducing people to the thrill of surfing, no matter their age or ability.

We are proud of the work we have undertaken to make our rural part of Wales accessible for all, while also transforming a former industrial site with the greatest care for the environment. We are excited to be expanding our business in the coming year, and can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

“The Rural Business Awards shines a much-deserved spotlight on the innovators, creators and inventors in rural communities across the UK and it’s great to celebrate their successes at this year’s national final,” said Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon. “I’d like to congratulate all the winners and finalists at this year’s event and wish them continued success for the future.”

The Rural Business Awards is 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.

Government figures show that rural firms are in fact punching above their weight when it comes to their contribution to the UK economy. Around 17 per cent of the population in much of the UK (England and Scotland) lives in rural area, yet rural enterprise across the country contributes £229billion to the country’s GVA (gross value added) – about a fifth of the country’s economic activity.

Awards co-founder Anna Price said:

“My colleague Jemma and I are overwhelmed by the success of our Rural Business Awards, which have done so much to champion countryside-based firms across Britain. Huge congratulations to the winners for their success in our national awards. The winners came through tough regional heats so to win a top prize in our national awards is an achievement indeed.

“Our commitment to the rural agenda, and the success of the Rural Business Awards, has led to us establish the Rural Business Group, a not for profit, Community Interest Company (CIC), which was officially launched at the Rural Business Awards National Final. This independent organisation will enable the rural business community to find the support, inspiration and guidance that they need to grow and thrive.

“We have already held a rural roundtable at 10 Downing Street where we were able to invite a range of rural businesses to share their experiences and hopes for the future. Such was the success of the first event we have been invited to return to Downing Street in 2019 and this is just one of many initiatives, events and programmes that we have planned for the coming year to both support and showcase the very best of the UK’s rural business sector.”

“If rural firms are already punching above their weight in their contribution to the UK economy, who knows what we can achieve if we work together to create a level playing field to enable rural businesses to compete on equal terms?”

The Rural Business Awards are organised by rural business for rural business, with winners in the 13 categories – ranging from Best Rural Start-up and Outstanding Rural Diversification Project through to Best Rural Professional Services Business and Rural Education or Training Business – decided by an independent panel of judges drawn from the rural business sector, rural public sector agencies, and rural charitable organisations.

The Rural Business Awards is run in partnership with Amazon and are nationally sponsored by Openreach and Fisher German. The Rural Business Awards is also pleased to work with national associates such as the Federation of Small Businesses, the Farm Business Innovation Show, Harper Adams University, the Institute for Family Business and WiRE (Women in Rural Enterprise).

The 2019/20 Rural Business Awards are already open for entries so, to enter or find out more about the Awards, visit www.ruralbusinessawards.co.uk