A family-run farm shop in Glemsford says it is excited and humbled after being shortlisted to win a top rural business award for the first time in its history.
Willow Tree Farm Shop, based in Lower Road, has reached the final shortlist out of more than 11,000 nominations for the Countryside Alliance Awards, which celebrates British food, farming, enterprise and heritage.
The shop, set up more than 30 years ago by Michael and Deborah Russell, who still run the business with their son Matthew, is up for the Local Food/Drink category, after a groundswell of nominations submitted by local customers.
Matthew, 29, who has been involved in running Willow Tree Farm Shop for ten years, told the Free Press: “It was most unexpected. That’s what is quite humbling, because we are only a little family-run shop, so the fact we are being recognised is great.
“The business has evolved quite a lot over the years. We try to be a one-stop shop and we know most of our customers on a first-name basis.
“Food is such a passion in our family. We are just as keen on the food we sell as the people who buy it.
“We have never won an award like this because we have never really pushed for it. As much as we would love to win one, we are always so busy with the shop that competitions have always passed us by.
“The fact this came out of the blue is what makes it so exciting.”
The regional winners for the awards will be announced in March, and they will be invited to the national final at the Houses of Parliament in April, when the national champions will be crowned.
Sarah Lee, Countryside Alliance Awards director, said: “We have been overwhelmed by nominations this year.
“These awards provide a cause for celebration in a time of uncertainty in the countryside.
“Our local produce is second to none and there are many community heroes and businesses worthy of national recognition.”
For more about Willow Tree Farm Shop, go to www.willowtreefarmshop.co.uk.