Commons date for the small but meaty shops

Two food businesses with their roots based firmly in Yorkshire’s farming industry have been named among the best 20 small shops in Britain.

Chris and Christine Garnett, owners of Hunters of Helmsley.

Hunters of Helmsley, based in Helmsley’s picturesque Market Place, and Elite Meat, the award-winning butcher and baker in Starbeck near Harrogate, are both in the running for a prestigious award that will be handed out in the House of Commons next week.

Both family businesses have been shortlisted as finalists in the Best Small Shops Competition 2015 by an independent panel of judges who received hundreds of entries from across the country.

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The owners of the 20 shortlisted small shops have been invited to attended an event in the Commons this Wednesday where the overall winner will be revealed.

The competition is run by the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group and is administered by the Independent Retailers Confederation.

Husband and wife team Chris and Christine Garnett took over Hunters of Helmsley in 2008.

Both are from farming families. Mr Garnett ran a beef, sheep and arable farm on the edge of Wharfedale with his father for more than 18 years and Mrs Garnett’s family still farm in West Yorkshire.

Before buying Hunters, they ran a successful fish and chip shop in Horsforth, Leeds, for seven years.

Mrs Garnett said: “We were astounded and absolutely delighted to make the final 20, especially as we are one of only two businesses in Yorkshire to make the shortlist.

“We love food and drink, and we love to make our customers happy, so that’s at the forefront of everything we do. We’ve very lucky that we have so many fantastic producers on our doorstep, along with a very supportive local community and local business network.

“We hope we can do them all proud on February 25.”

The shop supports a network of local suppliers. Its bread and cakes are made at the Malton Bakery 15 miles away, cheeses come from the likes of Shepherd’s Purse and Wensleydale Creamery, drinks from Ryedale Vineyards and local breweries including Cropton and Hambleton.

Johnsons of Thirsk and Malton-based Julyan the Baker provide the pastries, sausage rolls and pork pies. Meat is sourced from local farms and cooked daily on the premises.

The deli also has its own ‘Hunters’ range of chutneys, jams, marmalades and mustards, produced near York using local ingredients.

Its local rival for the Small Shops crown, Elite Meat, opened in Starbeck in 1999. A traditional butchers, it offers locally reared meat in the form of sausages, pork pies and ready meals made daily to award-winning recipes.

Brothers Gordon and Andrew Atkinson are the sons of a farming family from Addingham Moorside, between Ilkley and Skipton.

Aged 18, Andrew Atkinson was the youngest livestock judge at the Royal Smithfield Show and has gone on to judge at national level. He farms around 40 acres of land at Kettlesing and another 170 acres in the surrounding area.

His operations provide mutton and lamb products for the shop, which extends to around 2,000 square feet after the premises were expanded in 2003. His brother Gordon is a familiar face behind the counter.

Their father, the late Ben Atkinson, was a well-known livestock auctioneer at Wharfedale Farmers Auction Market in Otley.