Tue, 19 Feb 2019
A WEST Berkshire business has been shortlisted for a ‘Rural Oscar’.
Hampstead Norreys Community Shop has been selected as a regional finalist in the village shop/post office category of the South East Countryside Alliance Regional Awards.
Known as the Rural Oscars, the annual awards celebrate and promote rural businesses, British food and farming, enterprise and heritage.
Hampstead Norreys is up against Blakes Kitchen/Clanfield Post Office in Oxfordshire and two others in West Sussex.
Overall the competition received 17,000 entries.
Judges will visit the shop in the spring and the winners will be announced in May.
If the shop wins the regional final it will go to the awards ceremony being held at the Houses of Parliament on June 9.
Hampstead Norreys Community Shop committee member Avril Mason said: “We are so delighted to have made it through to the finals of these prestigious awards.
“We would like to say a huge thank you to all our wonderful customers and volunteers who voted for us.
“We are thrilled that the hard work of our shop committee, staff and volunteers is being recognised.”
The shop opened in March 2011 and is run by the community, for the community.
Although there are some paid staff, the majority are volunteers and many villagers are shareholders.
It sells locally-sourced produce where possible, has a wide range of gluten-free products and displays local artists’ works in the popular café.
One regular customer, Janet Carruzzo, said: “Our community shop is the hub of our local community.
“It is so lovely to have a shop in the village which stocks such an amazing range of products, has a lovely café area were we can congregate and most of all the wonderful, friendly service by people you know.
“If you are working from home and want some company, you always know you can go to the shop for a coffee and some company.”
In 2018, the shop won the Plunkett Foundation Rural Community Ownership Award for its work on sustainability and eco-friendly activities.
The shop is currently working with the village school to make ecobrick bottles to build a bench there and also holds workshops to teach customers how to make the bricks at home from plastic bottles.
Countryside Alliance Awards director Sarah Lee said: “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.
“Our local produce is second to none and there are many community heroes and businesses worthy of national recognition.”
Hamsptead Norreys, which was named South East village of the year following a Channel 4 contest in 2018, will want to follow in the footsteps of Saddleback Farm Shop in Brightwalton, which won joint-champion in the South East Butcher category in 2017.