Rural Oscars

It was great to learn that four local South Northants businesses are in the regional finals for the 2019 Rural Oscars!

I am a huge supporter of the fantastic independent retailers and food sellers across Northants - not to mention all of the farmers, growers, producers, bakers, cooks, and many others who deliver so much wonderful locally-sourced food and drink - and I try to visit as many as I can, and to buy locally wherever possible. So I was really pleased to hear that not one but four businesses in South Northamptonshire are being recognised for the hard work they do in the area.

Now in its 14th year, the Rural Oscars - otherwise known as the Countryside Alliance Awards - have seen over 17,000 nominations submitted for businesses right across the whole UK, and are known as the “gold standard” in recognising the skills, produce, tradition, enterprise, and the people behind the success stories. There are five categories, and the regional finalists have just been announced. From these businesses the nine regional champions from the five categories will be invited to Parliament for the national finals and, in the presence of MPs and Ministers, the national rural champions in each category will be crowned.

So, this year in South Northants we have:

  • Local Food / Drink: Pastures Poultry Farm Shop and Café, Yardley Hastings

  • Village Shop / Post Office: Sulgrave Village Shop and Post Office

  • Butcher: Brackley Butchers

  • Pub: The New Inn, Abthorpe

Pastures Poultry Farm Shop and Café in Yardley Hastings is a working family farm, rearing free range poultry. The farm shop and café opened in 2016, and the vast majority of what they sell is handmade on the farm. From free range poultry to pork pies, pasties and sausage rolls to cakes, puddings and treats, as well as a fantastic spread of farm-made chutneys and jams, there is something for everyone! You can shop online, so do head to to see what takes your fancy. Their chicken, sage and onion sausage roll won the Carlsberg Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards Best Savoury Product in 2018/19.

Sulgrave Village Shop and Post Office is a not-for-profit business, run entirely by volunteers, and aims to support both the local community’s daily requirements as well as providing more specialised delicatessen items, with locally-sourced produce always favoured. The shop first opened in 2004, and now stocks over 1500 different items including tinned, jarred and dried goods, household consumables and basic medical items, dairy, chilled and frozen products including an assortment of ready-meals, a delicatessen section, a wide variety of breads, cakes and biscuits, a carefully selected range of wines with individually labelled tasting notes, beers, ciders, spirits, a selection of soft drinks, fresh fruit and vegetables, stationery and greetings cards, newspapers and tobacco products. I’ve been pleased to support the shop myself since being elected as the MP, and have visited whenever I am in Sulgrave. I know just how absolutely vital it is for the local community, especially the older residents. You can find out more, including opening times, on the village’s website:

Brackley Butchers is situated on the Market Place in the centre of the town, just across from the Town Hall, and combines the traditional skills of a butchery business with a modern, innovative approach to deepening local ties whilst educating and serving the local community. They have some amazing produce on sale, including Newbottle Beef, Purston Lamb and Little Hill Farm Pork which are all hard to beat. In addition to offering a bespoke butchery experience, their team are always happy to provide advice on preparation, portion sizes and cooking times as well as inspiring new ideas and recipes; the butchers also holds meat demonstration evenings, visits local schools and gets involved in charity events such as the popular ‘Open Farm Sunday’ at Newbottle Estate as well as through their popular butchery and sausage making classes. Have a look at their website, including their online shop:

Finally, and by no means least, as it’s my local pub, is The New Inn pub in Abthorpe. A popular venue for people of all ages far and wide, there is always a welcoming atmosphere when you arrive, in a building with plenty of character. Rob, who runs the pub, has overseen the reintroduction of darts and Northamptonshire skittles (more fun game than the game played elsewhere in the country!), and there is a wide selection of Hook Norton ales served along-side good home-cooked pub favourites, from locally sourced ingredients. Included in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide, the pub is your quintessential English village pub, and families are always welcomed. For a final seal of approval from me, it’s where I took my team for our Christmas lunch this year, and it was (as always) absolutely marvellous! Check the pub out online:

I wish all four businesses the best of British as regional judging gets underway, and I hope to see all of them as their respective finalist ahead of the nationals in the House of Lords in June!