Countryside communities and the food and farming sectors that have traditionally underpinned their very survival face a defining era, with Brexit set to bring about a new trading environment for British food and a new way of financially supporting agriculture.
All the while, many villages at the heart of agricultural communities continue to battle against a series of other challenges, from fighting to keep vital services, schools and other amenities, to retaining and attracting young families to ensure that communities remain vibrant and sustainable.
Despite those challenges, all across the region there are countless examples of incredible efforts to ensure rural Yorkshire flourishes and thrives, from community-run pubs, shops and bus services led by hard-working volunteers, to innovative businesses that are providing crucial services and support, as well as farming families who lead by example by taking steps to safeguard their livelihoods, engage with the pressing environmental agenda and diversify in inspiring ways.
The Rural Awards will celebrate all this and more, from the students who represent the future of food, farming and its allied industries to the best rural tourist attractions that secure crucial income for their communities and continue to create jobs.
By highlighting these important achievements, we will showcase rural Yorkshire’s inspiring narrative and make a compelling case to those in power of the value of investing in the burgeoning potential of countryside communities.
And that is not all: this is an opportunity to rightly recognise and reward the rural heroes in our midst, and for those lucky enough to be shortlisted, an evening of celebration to remember.
We are delighted to announce that BBC journalist Harry Gration will be the host at the awards evening at Pavilions of Harrogate at the Great Yorkshire Showground on Thursday, October 10, when the winners will be revealed across 13 award categories.
Eleven of the categories are open for both direct entries and for nominations via the Rural Awards website.
James Mitchinson, editor of The Yorkshire Post, said: “This year is the third time we have staged the Rural Awards and we want your help to ensure we build on the exciting momentum of the last few years.
“There are so many people in our rural villages and market towns who selflessly do so much to make their communities better places to live; there is a plethora of talented entrepreneurs underpinning the rural economy’s incredible resilience, and there are passionate farmers, often working in isolated places, who strive day after day to maintain the wonderful landscapes we all too readily take for granted and who produce some of the finest food around, too often with too little financial reward.
“We want to celebrate all those people who contribute so much but whose efforts would otherwise go largely unrecognised by the wider world.
“It is also a chance to deliver a timely reminder to politicians that Yorkshire’s rural communities need to be nurtured and supported, just as much as urban Britain, when the UK leaves the European Union and investment decisions fall firmly at the feet of those in Westminster.
“I would implore everyone in rural Yorkshire with a story to tell about their contribution to the countryside’s awesome strength to enter our awards and help us to celebrate the best of the best for the good of Yorkshire as a whole.”
New categories for 2019 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.
The Lifetime Achievement Award and Farm of the Year will be chosen by The Yorkshire Post.
The full list of categories includes: Rural Business of the Year, sponsored by Ryedale Auctioneers; Rural Innovator of the Year; Farm of the Year, sponsored by Bishop Burton College; Rural Hero, sponsored by The Robert Fuller Gallery; Young Farmer of the Year, sponsored by Myddleton Croft Investment Managers; Professional Services to the Community; Vet of the Year; Rural High Street or Rural Retailer; Rural Tourist Attraction, sponsored by FG Adamson &Son; Farm Shop; Student/Apprentice; Diversification, sponsored by Wilkin Chapman LLP Solicitors; and Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Cundalls.
How to enter
The deadline for nominations and entries for The Yorkshire Post’s 2019 Rural Awards is Wednesday, September 4.
Entries will then go before a panel of judges before a shortlist is published.
The awards evening will be held at Pavilions of Harrogate at the Great Yorkshire Showground on Thursday, October 10.
Submit entries online at www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/ruralawards or send a detailed entry in writing to Jayne Lownsborough, Editorial, The Yorkshire Post, No. 1 Leeds, 26 Whitehall Road, Leeds, LS12 1BE. Please include contact details.