Rural businesses from across Britain are celebrating remotely following last week’s Rural Business Awards ceremony, held online for the first time reflecting the locked-down conditions that rural businesses have been battling through the past year. Jules Hudson, the Countryfile BBC1 presenter, delighted the finalists as host for the ceremony on Thursday 25th February which is now available on playback on the RBA Facebook page and the RBA YouTube Channel.
The awards recognise and celebrate the successes of businesses operating in the UK’s rural economy, a sector which in England alone contributes £261bn to the nation’s GVA (Gross Value Added) – nearly a fifth of the country’s total economic activity.
“It’s an honour to support the Rural Business Awards’ efforts to showcase the incredible talent of British rural business,” said John Boumphrey, UK Country Manager, Amazon. “On behalf of Amazon, I would like to congratulate all the winners on this achievement, and I wish them further success in the future.”
Twelve category winners, including a new Sustainability and Environmental Impact Award category, and six additional “Triumph Over Adversity” winners, were announced, following a record number of entrants and a competitive shortlist process. Winners came from a range of sectors, including:
- A website dedicated to offering quality accessible holiday accommodation for the 13.9m people living with disability in the UK (Accessible Holiday Escapes, in Flintshire)
- A homewares and clothing firm raising awareness of the benefits of wool, selling their flock’s produce from shepherd huts on their farm and reaching customers further afield via Amazon (Romney Marsh Wools, in Kent)
- Providers of accessible courses in rural skills – including horticulture, woodlands/land management, countryside and environment and construction – for vulnerable and isolated groups, including those with mental and physical disabilities, and former service personnel (Abberton Rural Training, in Essex)
Founded by rural-based businesswomen, Jemma Clifford and Anna Price, the Rural Business Awards are backed by Amazon and judged by an independent panel, drawn from the rural business sector, rural public sector agencies, and rural charitable organisations.
Reflecting the particular challenges of the past year, the “Triumph Over Adversity” award was presented to all six shortlisted businesses for the first time. These founders have overcome particular personal and professional challenges of their own during their businesses’ growth journeys.
One “Triumph over Adversity” award-winner is the Tiny Box Company, which was also the runner-up in the Best Rural Retail Business category. Tiny Box Company’s founder and Managing Director Rachel Watkyn, has overcome multiple setbacks and is now determined to help other small businesses excel. She created the Tiny Box Company after identifying a gap in the market for environmentally-friendly packaging when looking at options to box up her range of ethical and fair-trade jewellery. Her business plan secured backing via the BBC programme, Dragon’s Den, but she has battled through monumental business and personal challenges, including a warehouse fire, a flood and hacker activity – and of course also the Coronavirus pandemic – as well as battling challenges with her own health and that of her father, whilst growing the business.
Speaking after winning The Triumph Over Adversity Award, Rachel Watkyn, Founder and Managing Director at Tiny Box Company, said: “I am truly humbled to receive the Triumph Over Adversity Award alongside every other worthy winner in this category at the Rural Business Awards. The past year has been especially difficult for businesses, so to receive this award means the absolute world to our Tiny Team. I want the success of Tiny Box Company to be a glimmer of hope for anyone who is currently struggling or has struggled in the past – better days are on the horizon. Thank you, Rural Business Awards and Amazon.”
Jemma Clifford, Director and Co-Founder of The Rural Business Awards, said: “The last year has been tough for all rural businesses, but we remain amazed at the high calibre of entries to the RBAs and this has certainly continued in the 2020/21 year. The judges had a real challenge on their hands when picking the winners and every business shortlisted should be very proud of their achievement of reaching the National Final. Our winners have all shown great determination and have bright futures ahead – on behalf of everyone at the Rural Business Awards we congratulate them all.”
Entries are now open for the 2021/22 RBA year – you can find out more information on our entry webpage here.
 House of Lords library note, Rural Economy and UK Agriculture: Issues for the New Parliament (January, 2020)