Yorkshire Post Rural Awards: Celebrating the best and brightest of Yorkshire's rural community

Celebration of the Yorkshire countryside and honouring the best of farming practices, rural businesses, fantastic events and achievements was the focus of this year’s seventh Yorkshire Post Rural Awards that took place at the Pavilions of Harrogate last week.

On the day when talk in the countryside majored on the brutal felling of one of the UK’s most iconic trees, the landmark sycamore of Sycamore Gap in Northumberland, it was the wooden-made trophies that were the prized possessions of worthy recipients from right across the county.

This year’s Yorkshire Post Rural Awards had undergone an overhaul from previous years that saw new awards for seven individual farming sectors and an increased emphasis on what is happening both on farms and in rural businesses and communities currently.

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A totally new award, the Surprise Award, honoured North Yorkshire farmer Peter Fall of Grazing Nook Farm and Patrick Brompton for his annual rock music event The Barn That Rocks that sees he and his family transform his barn each year to a live music venue.

A general view of guests at the awards ceremony. Picture by Allan McKenzie/AMGP.co.ukA general view of guests at the awards ceremony. Picture by Allan McKenzie/AMGP.co.uk
A general view of guests at the awards ceremony. Picture by Allan McKenzie/AMGP.co.uk

Peter, who was in his familiar bright red satin suit that he wears at every one of his barn shows, has raised over £125,000 for various charities since he started and was well and truly surprised to hear he had won the award for his charity work after missing out on the category he was shortlisted for as Rural Event of the Year, which went to YAMS (Yorkshire Agricultural Machinery Show).

It was particularly poignant for Peter at this time as just a few weeks earlier he had been diagnosed with aggressive but treatable prostate cancer and the warmth he received among the 200-plus awards attendees was probably the most all-enveloping of the evening.

“It was a big surprise, but a very nice one,” said Peter afterwards. “We all enjoyed a wonderful evening and made many new friends. I will always treasure the award and dedicate it to the The Barn That Rocks family. It was a lovely atmosphere all night. You really got me. I’ve put our names down to attend next year’s awards because of the love in the room. I’m a fighter. This has been great for me. I’ll be there.

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Earlier in the evening the awards attendees heard from another remarkable person, a young lady, Hannah Russell who spoke on behalf of the Yorkshire Post Rural Awards’ charity partner Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Hannah found fame with her best-selling children’s book Little Alf & Friends which features her miniature Shetland pony and now runs Swinton Green Animal Experiences on Swinton Estate in Masham.

Her address, which included tales of having already battled through cancer of her hip, Sarcoma cancer, and skin cancer in her early twenties, having previously broken vertebrae in her back at 16 years old, was an inspiration, and the four short videos that followed moved some to tears. The sum raised for Yorkshire Cancer Research on the night through a raffle and silent auction was £2822.81. Hannah’s full story appears in this weekend’s edition of Country Post.

One of many wonderful moments of the night was provided by James Hill and his wife Alex of Kidfield Farm in Hoylandswaine who had been shortlisted for Dairy Farm of the Year.

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They arrived with their six day old baby daughter Phoebe Alexandra Hill who had been born the previous Saturday morning at 6.54am. It was to prove another success for them as they received the award with some suggesting that Phoebe may just be the youngest ever award recipient. Awards organiser Becca Turnbull supplied Alex with a bouquet for having gone above and beyond in getting to the awards at all.

A standing ovation went to Christine Barber who was this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for her 40-plus year career as a commentator at agricultural shows, Point to Point meetings and notably the Royal Highland Show, Bramham Horse Trials and at the Great Yorkshire Show for 38 years. An interview with Christine appears on pXX of this edition of Country Post.

The Yorkshire Post Rural Awards 2023 headline sponsors were BASC, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, for their third year and Garry Doolan, deputy director of communications and public affairs, gave the opening sponsors address after host for the evening, Country Post writer Chris Berry had welcomed everyone and had thanked the judges which included himself; Charles Mills, show director of the Great Yorkshire Show; Stephen Wyrill, regional chair of the Tenant Farmers Association; and Lucinda Douglas, regional chair of the Country Land and Business Association.

This year’s awards overhaul saw a greater number of nominees than ever before with over 100 nominees for the first time and fabulous shortlisted nominees in every award. The awards also saw an increase in sponsors with the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, Lister Haigh, Cranswick, Smailes Goldie Group, Stephensons Rural, Andrew Jackson Solicitors, York Auction Centre, Richard Roberts and Yorkshire Cancer Research all involved.

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“That’s been the best yet,” was a common cry afterwards among attendees, whether they had picked up a prize or not, all around the room. The attendees had earlier enjoyed all-Yorkshire produce for their meals and had joined together in a toast to the Yorkshire Agricultural Society for their excellent Pavilions of Harrogate venue.

Charles Mills gave special thanks to The Yorkshire Post in an impromptu address before announcing the overall Farm of the Year title which went to Ian and Anna Wilson of Searchlight Farm in Nunthorpe having previously scooped the Sheep Farm of the Year award.

“The Yorkshire Post does so much for farming, for the rural world, and the countryside and night like this are really special.

The Yorkshire Post Rural Awards 2023 finished with a call to arms for next year’s awards and a last toast to Yorkshire. This was a magnificent celebration of the best in the countryside from forward thinking farms to enigmatic people, inspiring people, wonderful events, tremendous achievements and was a heart-warming experience for all ages from just 6 days old and upwards.