New Year’s Honours: Reward for protection of rural heritage in new age

Emma Woods, owner of Duncombe Sawmill Ltd in Helmsley has been made an MBE for services to rural business and skills in North Yorkshire.  Pic: Tony Johnson
Emma Woods, owner of Duncombe Sawmill Ltd in Helmsley has been made an MBE for services to rural business and skills in North Yorkshire. Pic: Tony Johnson
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AN ENTREPRENEUR who saved a traditional sawmill and ensured the continuation of a rural skill that spans generations is among the region’s proud recipients of New Year honours.

On a whim, Emma Woods bought up Duncombe Sawmill in Helmsley, North Yorkshire when the loss-making enterprise looked destined for closure in 2003. Six years later she was making a profit and now the mill’s huge range of handcrafted wooden fixtures are selling not just UK wide but also across the continent as far as Scandinavia.

In recognition of her services to rural business and skills, Mrs Woods, 48, of Kirkbymoorside, receives an MBE in The Queen’s New Year’s Honours - a list which also sees recognition for a number of high-profile individuals in Yorkshire, including Doncaster MP Rosie Winterton and former Huddersfield Town footballer Denis Law.

Mrs Woods said: “I was completely taken aback. I’m very excited and incredibly honoured.”

To safeguard the sawmill’s future, Mrs Woods combined the traditions of the original sawmill with investment in state-of-the-art equipment. Her team of craftsmen use mostly local timber sourced from a 25-mile radius.

“I have been so very lucky to have such incredibly loyal customers and members of staff,” she said.