Four businesses have been nominated for a prestigious award celebrating the unsung heroes in their communities. 

The Essex-based businesses are part of 25 companies shortlisted for the Countryside Alliance Awards from across the East of England after thousands of votes came in. 

The awards celebrate businesses that go the extra mile and support the economy. 

All nominees are judged on a range of criteria, including passion and commitment, a sense of community, championing local food, and energy and diversity. 

Saffron Walden Reporter:

The “rural Oscars”, as they are commonly known, are 2024 in their 17th year and the winners will represent the region at the House of Lords in the national champions reception in June. 

There are five categories: 

  • Best Pub 
  • Best village shop/post office 
  • Best Butcher 
  • Best for local food and drink 
  • Rural Enterprise Award 

The Essex nominees are: 

  • Humphreys & Sons Butcher in Rank’s Green for Best Butcher 
  • Wicks Manor Farm & Butchers in Tolleshunt Major for Best for local food and drink 
  • The Court House in Great Bromley for Best Pub 
  • Clayhill Vineyard in Latchingdon for the Rural Enterprise Award 

Front of house manager Dale Layer at The Court House said: “It is brilliant for us. We took over the business just about two years ago and had to close for refurbishment. 

Saffron Walden Reporter:

“Being nominated is fantastic and it shows the hard work of the staff here.” 

Countryside Alliance director of policy Sarah Lee said: “We've received a wealth of nominations from the public this year, showcasing a multitude of exceptional businesses in the East of England.  

“Each business plays a meaningful role in their community, and what sets the Rural Oscars apart is their emphasis on honouring the individuals behind these businesses, rather than just their products or services.  

Saffron Walden Reporter:

“Given the challenging circumstances faced by many rural businesses around the country, it's essential for all of us to demonstrate support in any way possible.  

“We encourage as many people as possible to get voting today.” 

Saffron Walden Reporter:

Members of the public can cast their votes online until April 1.