West-Yorkshire based *Keelham Farm Shop* in Thornton, Bradford, has been crowned Yorkshire Food Champion in the 2011 Countryside Alliance Awards and now stands to win a national title.
The Countryside Alliance Awards, nicknamed the ‘Rural Oscars’, are now in their seventh year of celebrating the characters, skills, traditions and enterprise of the countryside through the people who work so hard to make it tick.
The awards are public-nomination led, meaning Keelham was put forward by supportive customers keen to see them recognised for their work. Keelham beat competition from shops in York and Helmsley to claim the regional title.
The awards run over four categories, with the food category being the most fiercely contested. The Keelham team will now travel to the Houses of Parliament for a winners’ reception in March, at which the overall British and Irish champions will be announced.
Countryside Alliance North of England regional director Simon Hamlyn commented: “Keelham Farm Shop has won this title for the simple reason that they go above and beyond in their support of Yorkshire produce. Supporting a breathtaking 250 Yorkshire producers, customers know that what they are buying is of the highest standards, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.
“Keelham is clearly a central part of the community and the farm shop supports local charities, sells customers’ excess vegetables and also provides a local bus service called the Keelham Shopper Hopper. The Countryside Alliance is particularly proud to support Keelham because of the educational work the team undertakes to reconnect our youngsters with our countryside.
“Yorkshire’s farming industry is a proud part of its heritage and encouraging children to embrace it through educational days is vital to the industry’s future – and children’s understanding of healthy eating. This shop is a great all rounder and I have very high hopes for it in the national finals.”
Keelham Farm Shop director Victoria Robertshaw said: “To be crowned Yorkshire regional Local Food champion in the ‘Rural Oscars’ is a major achievement and high honour in itself – a fitting recognition to how we do things ‘The Keelham Way.’
“We feel it reflects our total commitment to the hundreds of Yorkshire producers and suppliers we continue to support, a long-held policy that also provides a tremendous boost to the rural economy.
“It’s an accolade we could never hoped to have achieved without the help and support of the entire Keelham team and our loyal customers ““ over 8,000 of them every week at the last count, and growing. Our customers clearly recognise and appreciate our extensive community and charitable work and themselves support the business.”
Multi award-winning Keelham Farm Shop will be making its second visit to the nation’s seat of power. They were last in the House of Commons in December, 2010, to receive their trophy after becoming ‘Non-Multiple Retailer of the Year’ in the Food and Farming Industry Awards.