An individual or group that has battled to make a dramatic difference in the world of country life-and beyond
Maj Phil Packer, fundraising, Help for Heroes
Maj Packer has raised in excess of £1.1 million for Help for Heroes, after losing the use of his legs while on duty in Iraq. Having rowed the English Channel solo and completed this year’s Flora London Marathon in just over 13 days, on crutches, his latest project was El Capitan mountain in Yosemite National Park, an ascent of 3,000ft.
Charles Clover, author, The End of the Line
Charles Clover’s book The End of the Line has now been made into a highly acclaimed film. Its central claim is that the world’s stocks of seafood will have collapsed by 2050 at the present rates of destruction by fishing. A powerful and troubling indictment of global fishing policies, its ultimate aim is to raise awareness.
The British Beekeepers’Association
Effective campaigning resulted in an extra £10 million of Government funding, which is being poured into researching the considerable threats faced by Britain’s bees and other insect pollinators. More than 140,000 people signed its recent petition. With more than 15,000 members, it’s the leading organisation representing beekeepers within the UK.
David Waters, great bustards
Mr Waters is the founder and director of The Great Bustard Group, which aims to reintroduce the booming-voiced species to Britain. After more than a decade of work, the first chicks hatched in Britain this year, under a new reintroduction scheme instigated by the group-the first to do so in more than two centuries.
Local Country Event
An outing that symbolises all that is best in Britain and pulls the community together
Southwell Ploughing Match and Show, Nottinghamshire (September 26)
The match is staged on a different farm or country estate each year, and is run on a largely volunteer basis by local farmers. Founded in 1855 on a very modest scale, it’s now considered to be one of the best of its kind in the country.
The Boxing Day Duck Race, Bibury, Gloucestershire
Each of the ducks is sponsored for £10, with the owner of the winning duck able to nominate which charity they would like all of the day’s proceeds to go to. A firm favourite, and now in its 21st year.
Dartington Ways With Words Literature Festival, Devon (July 9-18)
This 10-day annual festival is now in its 18th year. Held in the grounds of Dartington Hall, Devon, it’s known for its diversity; as well as the standard fare, well-known literary figures examine issues around sustainability, culture and social justice.
The Eat Dorset Food Fair (October 17 and 18)
This fair continues to endorse and extol the wonderful produce that comes from Dorset and the surrounding area. More than 45 producers showcase chocolates, wild-boar sausages, fresh goat’s cheese and seasonal chutney. Well-established names line up with up-and-coming, lesser-known talent.
The Hawkridge Revel, Exmoor (August Bank Holiday Monday)
An Exmoor institution-a gymkhana, picnic, horse show, fête and bring-and-buy sale all rolled into one to create this unique annual happening. With a thoroughly rural backdrop in Molland Moor, dogs are as numerous as locals and everyone is welcome.
Someone who has made a real difference to rural life, wildlife, agriculture, environment or craft, either locally or nationally
Lady Dufferin, queen of yoghurt
She produced the first Irish yoghurt, which is now stocked by many major supermarkets. Launched in 2008, Clandeboye’s Natural and Greek-style yoghurts are said to be handmade in the traditional way from the milk produced by the estate’s top pedigree herd of Holstein and Jersey cows.
The Rev Canon Alan Robson
Lincolnshire’s agricultural chaplain for 10 years, he set up the Lincolnshire Rural Stress Network to support those suffering from crises in the countryside, such as foot-and-mouth disease. He also came up with the idea of The Epic Centre at Lincolnshire Showground, which was recently nominated as one of the top 10 Green buildings in England.
Emma and Lucy Reeves, creators of Muddy Matches
Launched in 2007, the web-based company organises balls and events, such as claypigeon shooting/sailing trips, with the aim of connecting like-minded people with rural interests or backgrounds who might not otherwise have the time or opportunity to meet people. The site now has 20,000 members and has led to some 10 marriages and engagements and two babies.
Mark Gibson, landscape restorer
His aim, since buying Craigengillan- a 3,000-acre estate set in a deprived
community of former miners and their families-eight years ago, has been to share it with his neighbours and visitors. He has put in 17 miles of native hedging, is removing the dense sitka spruce plantations, and has planted 1.5 million hardwood trees, including 250 acres of natives.
Nick Mann, native habitat saviour
Founder of Habitat Aid, launched in May of this year, which sells plants, seeds, trees, shrubs, nest boxes, hedges and tools that enhance or regenerate our vanishing native habitats. Half of the profits go to specialist charities working to protect and promote biodiversity in Britain.
Everything from large historic gardens to allotments has been considered, acknowledging lifetime achievement as well as innovation
The garden at Corsock House, Stewartry, Scotland
A remarkable wood-and-water garden, running up a stream-filled glen to a loch way up in the hills of Stewartry, to which its owner, the late Micky Ingall, devoted 40 years to maintaining and extending. That included brashing his own 100ft trees and building his own temples.
Goodnestone Park Gardens, Wingham, near Canterbury, Kent
Over the past 50 years, Lady FitzWalter has created a wonderfully English garden at Goodnestone. When she moved in, the garden was overgrown and neglected, and much clearing was needed. Now in her mid eighties, she remains fully hands-on, constantly adding new features and plantings.
Leamington Spa Station Garden, Warwickshire
In the spring of 2005, a group of volunteers started work here on some of the largest station gardens in the country, which were previously suffering from long-term neglect. There are now some 30 volunteers with a wide variety of skills, who have produced nothing short of a triumph.
Plas Cadnant Gardens, North Wales
A 200-acre ‘gentrified farm’, as its present owner Anthony Tavernor calls it-big but not grand. Its heyday was 1918 to 1939, but,from the 1940s onwards, it went into decline. By 1996, it was a mess. Mr Tavernor has rejuvenated it into one of the great gardens of Britain.
This celebrates exceptional restoration and architectural projects that have been recently completed
Rycote House, Oxfordshire
House and estate have been transformed in exemplary fashion since 2000, through the labours of Mr and Mrs Taylor. The house has been reintegrated as a single residence and sensitively remodelled by the architect Nicholas Thompson of Donald Insall Associates. The Taylors have also restored the outstanding chapel beside the house, with underfloor heating and a new organ.
Muncaster Castle, Cumbria
The home of the Penningtons for 800 years, it has been much expanded and adapted by the family over the centuries. But, by 1995, it was in a parlous condition. Within five years, £5.5 million has been raised from scratch, the castle has been saved for the future, and the grounds have been extensively restored.
Aldourie Castle, Inverness-shire
A Scots Baronial mansion on Loch Ness that was in a rundown state when the entrepreneurial rescuer of historic buildings Roger Tempest bought it. Employing a team mof leading conservators, designers and landscape specialists, he has carefully repaired every detail of the structure, restored and redecorated the interior to the highest quality, and relandscaped the park. The work was completed only a month or two ago, but Aldourie is already in demand as one of the smartest and most comfortable houses to let for holidays and house parties.
The Darnley Mausoleum, Cobham, Kent
Built in 1786, this is one of the great masterpieces by the architect James Wyatt, and the story of its restoration is one of the most heartening of recent years. The restored mausoleum was handed over to the National Trust this year, and is now open to the public.
For a hostelry that brings the community together, provides good, locally sourced food and has found ways to flourish in difficult times
The Peat Spade, Longstock, Test Valley, Stockbridge, Hampshire
Located in the ‘fly-fishing capital of the world’ overlooking the River Test, it offers good food, good wine and good sport. Making the most of its sporting associations, it has its own fishing shop, and fly-fishing and shooting trips can be arranged locally.
The King’s Head Inn, Laxfield, Suffolk
Still genuinely unaltered, this 16th-century inn offers the benefits of home-cooked food. Unusually, there’s no bar-instead, beers are served straight from the casks in the tap room. Customers either wait inside for drinks or they can be served over a stable door to those sitting outside.
The Thomas Lord, West Meon, Petersfield, Hampshire
A thoroughly British pub that draws on its association with the founder of Lord’s cricket ground and former resident of West Meon, with plenty of cricketing memorabilia, but not overpoweringly so. Extremely friendly, often with a dog to be seen at every table.
The Masons Arms, Cartmel Fell, Cumbria
This well-run pub has wonderful views down over the Winster Valley to the woods below Whitbarrow Scar. The main bar has plenty of character, with low black beams in the bowed ceiling and country chairs and plain wooden tables on polished flagstones. A recent refurbishment has made it even more comfortable, at the same time as retaining all the original features.
The Pigs, Edgefield, near Holt, Norfolk
In an effort to bolster spirits in the grip of the dreaded recession, fresh fruit, fish, meat and vegetables have been swapped for pints at the pub, which now has a sign on the wall saying: ‘If you grow, breed, shoot or steal anything that may look at home on our menu, then bring it in and let’s do a deal!’
For the most enterprising local business, particularly one that provides specialist services and products that promote the countryside
The Organic Farm Shop, Cirencester, Gloucestershire
Selling 68% of its products from the land that surrounds it, this farm shop supplies fresh organic produce. Owner Mrs Chester- Master believes it has a responsibility to use the farm ‘for the local community-and for the planet. Local schools come for the day to see how a farm works and the Soil Association holds conferences here’.
Emma Cianchi keeps and breeds rare-breed pigs as well as keeping up her schoolwork, having begged for a pig for her 14th birthday. She now has 22 pigs, and runs pig-keeping courses at home. The venture, which started on a small scale two years ago, is now a successful family business.
Farms For City Children
Founded by Michael and Clare Morpurgo in 1976, this now operate out of three farms in Devon, Pembrokeshire and Gloucestershire, offering children from towns and cities the chance to live and work on a farm for a week and learn where their food comes from.
Cheshire Farm Ice Cream, Tattenhall, Cheshire
This company has been making award winning ice cream on the farm for many years, and is a popular local tourist attraction. It now has one of the largest ice-cream parlours in the country.