For all the strains facing rural livelihoods and therefore communities, there are individuals, groups of people and businesses doing amazing things whose achievements deserve to be celebrated and held up as examples to others.
This community of people, taken as a whole, ensure our landscapes are managed in a way that supports this county’s hugely valuable food and drink and tourism industries. Their entrepreneurial spirit and ceaseless graft is ingrained in families’ DNA from the generations before them, yet they are being let down.
Political uncertainty has dogged the food and farming sectors in this country for too long. The progress of the Agriculture Bill which proposes a framework for future farming policy is making slow progress through Parliament.
The prospect of a no-deal Brexit and the implications for trade with the EU - British agriculture’s largest market - remains a possibility.
As industry leaders have warned in The Yorkshire Post, farmers are breeding livestock and making crop decisions with no clarity over what markets their produce will serve.
There is continued uncertainty over the structure of ongoing financial support for agriculture, while the long-term migration of young people from small rural communities has in many places become a crisis.
As reported in our recent Dales in Crisis series - a year on from our first special report - severe shortages of affordable homes and shrinking austerity-hit local services is forcing working age families out, leading to school closures in some spots.
Despite those circumstances, Yorkshire is blessed with an array of rural businesses and communities that is rallying. Volunteers dedicate thousands of hours every year to make rural life vibrant, uphold traditions, create new ones and lend support to others and the environment. Many rural businesses - from village high street retailers to farmers - are adding value to the rural economy in inventive and innovative ways, from diversification projects to high quality retail experiences, while boosting local employment.
For these reasons and many more, The Yorkshire Post will celebrate the stand out success stories from Yorkshire’s countryside communities in our 2019 Rural Awards, sponsored by Bishop Burton College near Beverley.
James Mitchinson, editor of The Yorkshire Post, said: “Yorkshire is undoubtedly a rural powerhouse which makes a huge contribution to our county’s economic strength. Our food and farming businesses are part of one of the UK’s largest manufacturing sectors, worth more than £100 billion to the national economy.
“Countryside industry and communities have underpinned our region’s economic might and social vibrancy for centuries, and despite the pressures of a modern world, rural Yorkshire continues to show that it is a hotbed of entrepreneurial talent and community spirit.
“It is also a community which is not content with simply standing still. In The Yorkshire Post today, we exclusively report on the launch of Grow Yorkshire, a collaboration of food, farming and rural leaders, who are pro-actively engaging with the Government to further unlock rural growth.
“There will be challenges ahead for the countryside as a period of politically driven upheaval dawns but rural Yorkshire can look ahead with confidence. Our 2019 Rural Awards will explain why, by championing the incredible feats that are being achieved by businesses, individuals and groups in the countryside right now.
“We need your help to repeatedly bring to the attention of those in power the impressive capacity of rural Yorkshire. Help us to champion your voice at the highest level by entering our third annual Rural Awards. The story of your successes is an inspiring one that deserves to be told, shared and celebrated in style.”
ENTER HEREThere are 13 award categories - 11 of which are open for both direct entries and for nominations via the awards’ dedicated website.
New categories include Rural Innovator of the Year for a progressive business that is embracing digital technology and Rural Hero which celebrates those that selflessly dedicate their time for the good of their communities.
Two of the award winners - Lifetime Achievement Award and Farm of the Year - will be chosen by The Yorkshire Post.
All the winners will be announced at a ceremony at Pavilions of Harrogate at the Great Yorkshire Showground on Thursday, October 10.
Bill Meredith, chief executive and principal of overall awards sponsor Bishop Burton College, is keen for innovative farming businesses to enter and receive the recognition they deserve.
He said: “The Rural Awards are a great opportunity for us to celebrate all that’s best in food and farming in Yorkshire so I would fully encourage those businesses that have any sort of interest in agriculture and are doing anything different that is worth shouting about to put themselves forward.
“It would be great to recognise their contribution for the marvellous range of food and agricultural activity in Yorkshire.”
The importance of highlighting success cannot be underestimated, Mr Meredith said.
“We are at a bit of a crossroads in agriculture. Regardless of where Brexit takes us, we are moving into a new era of less farm subsidy so we need to be more entrepreneurial and we need to flag up those businesses that have a record of success in innovation or have created a new business or service which is adding value to a product because that is perhaps going to be the way that the farming industry continues to thrive in the future.”
Rural Business of the Year, sponsored by Ryedale Auctioneers: A remarkable rural business from the region that is positively thriving as a productive and profitable enterprise to the benefit of local people and the economy, giving it a great story to tell.
Rural Innovator of the Year: A progressive business from the region that has adopted the latest digital technology or machinery and can demonstrate how it has taken their venture to the next level.
Farm of the Year, sponsored by Bishop Burton College: An inspiring farm operation that is excelling in its field and is an example for others to follow, as chosen by The Yorkshire Post.
Rural Hero, sponsored by The Robert Fuller Gallery: A committed individual or rural-based group that has selflessly volunteered their time within a rural setting for the benefit of their community.
Young Farmer of the Year, sponsored by Myddleton Croft Investment Managers: A farmer aged 35 or under who has demonstrated excellence in agriculture that stands him or her out from their peers.
Professional Services to the Community: Rural businesses need support from a wide range of professionals. This award celebrates excellent customer service in professional services in rural Yorkshire.
Vet of the Year: Outstanding service and a consummate professional, this is a vet that is held in high regard for his or her work and manner, whether on the farm or in the surgery.
Rural High Street or Rural Retailer: A business or collection of businesses in rural Yorkshire that is a runaway success with locals and visitors alike and makes a vital impact to the local economy.
Rural Tourist Attraction, sponsored by F G Adamson & Son: A tourism business or collection of tourism businesses in rural Yorkshire that stands out for its success with locals and visitors, and makes a key contribution to the local economy.
Farm Shop: A farm shop in Yorkshire that can demonstrate outstanding success as a local employer, sourcing local food and drink, championing Yorkshire produce, and contributing to the rural economy.
Student/Apprentice: Whether excelling as part of their studies or whilst serving an apprenticeship, this individual shows they have a bright future in a countryside career ahead of them.
Diversification, sponsored by Wilkin Chapman LLP Solicitors: A rural business that has grabbed their destiny with both hands and changed the course of their operations by embracing a diversification project that excels in its field and sustains their farming operations.
Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Cundalls: An individual, chosen by us, who has dedicated decades of service to agriculture in Yorkshire and deserves extra special recognition for their outstanding achievements. We are not inviting nominations for this category.
HOW TO ENTER
The deadline for nominations for the 2019 Rural Awards is Wednesday, September 4.
Entries will then go before a panel of judges before a shortlist is published to announce those in the running for the awards.
To enter, submit your entry online at www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/ruralawards or send a detailed entry in writing to Jayne Lownsbrough, Editorial, The Yorkshire Post, No. 1 Leeds, 26 Whitehall Road, Leeds, LS12 1BE. Please include contact details in case we require further information.