At a glitz and glamour gala evening hosted by Jules Hudson of BBC Countryfile fame, the Rural Business Awards overall Champion of Champions was revealed at Denbies Winery in Surrey on Thursday 5th October.
We thought the competition in the category of Best Rural Tourism Business, of which we were one of 5 finalists, was stiff to say the least. With a diverse group including, an open farm/craft venue employing 50 people, a welsh Eco wedding center, a glamping site in Yorkshire and a stunning holiday cottage in Lancashire, we were resigned to be leaving without a prize.
However when the runner up in our category was Barleylands Farm and craft village there was a glimmer of hope for the top slot. As Jane Headley, Senior Tutor at Harper Adams University, opened the gold envelope Felicity and I were overwhelmed to hear Hoe Grange Holidays from The Derbyshire Peak District announced as the winner!
After being presented with the Best Rural Tourism Award on stage before the 300+ audience we were whisked off for photos and interviews.
It was then time to relax and revel in the glory of such a prestigious award. Having removed my jacket and loosened my tie I enjoyed a celebratory glass of the excellent Denbies red wine.
And the overall Champion of Champions are…
At the very end of the evening the co-founders of the Rural Business Awards, Jemma Clifford and Anna Price, announced the outstanding category of Champion of Champions. The winner was the finalist with the highest overall scores in the highly secretive and technical judging system. Judges marked entries individually so no one knew what the other judges thought or indeed who had won! The atmosphere was electric.
The judges were unanimous in their decision and you cannot imagine our surprise when the clear winner was announced as Hoe Grange Holidays!
Wow! Stunned and amazed, after a rapid re-dress and quickly retying my tie we made our way to the stage to rapturous applause to receive our second trophy of the evening.
It was all was a bit of a blur and our heads were in a spin, so imagine the shock and horror when they asked us to address the gathering! Thinking on my feet I thanked my wife Felicity for all the hard work over the last 12 years and said that to be recognized in such a way by a host of industry experts was the ultimate reward. I think I may have earned some extra brownie points there!
Felicity added her thanks and said how the teamwork between the two of us was well balanced; with her creative ideas and me keeping a close eye on the purse strings ensuring that as well as having a fantastically inspired business, it remained financially viable!
As well as a scrumptious meal with superb English wines from Denbies, guests were entertained by Faith Tucker, a very talented 17-year-old opera singer.
The evening was sponsored by the Country Landowners Association (CLA) and Amazon and celebrated businesses from all corners of the UK. The finalists in the 13 categories were as diverse as technical fabric producers, butchers, PR companies, software developers, sporting businesses and of course holiday providers. Find out about the other amazing finalists and winners of the Rural Business Awards 2017 here.
Since the Rural Business Awards ceremony life has been quite hectic, appearing on East Midlands Today TV, and Radio Derby breakfast show, to talk about our eco-friendly, accessible self-catering holidays, as well as featuring on many social media platforms and blogs.
Awards co-founder Anna Price said: “We had more entries in our tourism category than any other but Hoe Grange Holidays just blew us away and was a clear winner, not only in this category but of the whole awards. The shortage of holiday providers offering good quality disabled access is shocking and we loved how Hoe Grange was showing such imagination in filling this gap in the market. Huge congratulations to them, and we wish them every success in the future”.
Although back down to earth at home in the Peak District countryside, cleaning log cabins, greeting guests and farming, we are still on cloud nine and celebrating our tremendous achievement!