Rural businesses from across the UK are celebrating today following last night’s Rural Business Awards (RBA) Final. Jules Hudson, Countryfile and Escape to the Country presenter, hosted the ceremony which is now available on playback on the RBA Facebook page and the RBA YouTube Channel. The awards shone a light on the UK’s vibrant rural economy, showcasing stories of resilience, innovation and triumph over adversity.

The Rural Business Awards recognise and celebrate the successes and vital contributions of rural businesses to the UK’s economy, a sector which in England alone contributes £261bn to the nation’s GVA (Gross Value Added) – nearly a fifth of the country’s total economic activity. Founded by rural-based businesswomen, Jemma Clifford and Anna Price, the Rural Business Awards are backed by Amazon and assessed by an independent panel of judges, drawn from the rural business sector, rural public sector agencies, and rural charitable organisations.

Coterie Leather, Pembrokeshire - Sustainable and Environmental Impact Winner
Coterie Leather, Pembrokeshire - Sustainable and Environmental Impact Winner

“At Amazon, we are proud to support the Rural Business Awards, and help showcase the incredible efforts, dedication and achievements of British rural businesses,” said John Boumphrey, UK Country Manager, Amazon.

“We are committed to empowering small businesses across the UK, helping them to grow and reach new customers around the world. In fact, more than 60 small rural businesses exceeded £1 million in annual sales on Amazon alone last year. We believe the rural economy has huge potential for growth by embracing the opportunities of the digital economy, and the pandemic really put this into sharp focus. Many of the finalists this year demonstrated purpose, resilience and adaptability, and I hope they are immensely proud of what they do. I would like to congratulate the winners for all they have achieved and wish them every success for the next steps of their journey ahead.”

Jemma Clifford, Director and Co-Founder of The Rural Business Awards, said: “On behalf of everyone at the Rural Business Awards, I would like to congratulate those rural businesses who have worked tirelessly throughout another challenging year. Every year, I continue to be proud and remain in awe at the high calibre of entries to the awards and each business who was shortlisted should be very proud of reaching the National Final.”

In a year which has seen the climate crisis on the agenda, many Rural Business Awards finalists demonstrated their commitment to environmental sustainability. Examples include:

  • Otter Handmade: A husband and wife run business which creates handmade wooden furniture inspired by their daily walks in nature. The products celebrate the nature and revival of wood as an eco-friendly product with a lower carbon footprint.
  • Coterie Leather: An artisanal small business founded by designer-maker Tracy, who makes intricate and distinctive leather bags, small leather goods and accessories using waste products, that would otherwise be disposed of. Passionate about sustainability and minimising waste, the materials are all ethically sourced or salvaged from the furniture and fashions industries.
  • Calibrate Energy: A Northumberland-based business which supplies innovative commercial heating, chilling and energy-generating solutions to high energy-use businesses to help save costs and reduce carbon emissions. They have taken pioneering action in the UK, such as installing one of the largest ground source heat pumps (GSHP) and the UK’s first ever simultaneous heating and chilling system.

Twelve category winners and five additional “Triumph Over Adversity” winners, which awards those who have overcome personal or professional challenges, were announced following a record number of entrants and a competitive shortlist process.

Community Driving School CIC, Kent - Triumph Over Adversity Award Winner
Community Driving School CIC, Kent - Triumph Over Adversity Award Winner

One of the “Triumph over Adversity” award-winners is Community Driving School C.I.C. (CDC).

CEO John Nicholson’s multiple personal setbacks inspired him to set up his business, building on his desire to help those less fortunate than himself. After deciding to move away from a career in financial services, John retrained as a driving instructor in 2014. He founded his business with provisions to support those who were on a low wage, unemployed, young carers and students.

Speaking after winning the Triumph Over Adversity Award, John Nicholson from Community Driving School CIC said, “We would like to congratulate all of the businesses that entered the Rural Business Awards, and we are incredibly honoured to have won the Triumph Over Adversity Award. Community Driving School CIC is extremely focused on creating a positive impact on the community and it is rewarding to be recognised by Rural Business Awards and Amazon for our efforts.”

The full list of this year’s awards and winners can be found on the Rural Business Awards website.