The Rural Business Awards, supported by Amazon, is the only UK-wide programme dedicated to showcasing the success of rural businesses

Four companies from Kent are in the running to be named the best rural businesses in the UK after being shortlisted in the 2020/21 final of the Amazon-backed Rural Business Awards. 

The companies are:

  • Romney Marsh Wools from Aldington (Best Rural Creative or Artisan Business).
  • Detling Community Store from Detling (Best Rural Start Up Business).
  • CountryBike from Tunbridge Wells (Best Rural Start Up Business).
  • The Oak Barn, Frame Farm from Beneden (The Sustainability and Environmental Impact Award).

The Rural Business Awards 2020/21 will mark the Awards’ sixth year of celebrating the success of businesses across the UK’s rural economy. The final takes place in February 2021. The awards are organised by rural businesses for rural businesses to celebrate their achievements and develop a strong network for rural business owners. 

Established in 2008, Romney Marsh Wools is owned and run by Kristina and Paul Boulden and based on the family farm on the Romney Marsh, where they have a flock of 1,200 Romney ewes & 150 Merino ewes. The business produces wool for throws, cushions, hats, scarves, toiletries, gifts and more.

Detling Community Store is a local convenience store, coffee shop and post office formed by a passionate group of local residents determined to bring the heart back into the village. The store is made up of two containers joined together, with a deli counter at one end, outside decking and an internal storeroom. Detling Community store aims to be a destination store too, providing a unique range of stock that is unavailable in the area, such as local produce. It is managed by two paid staff and more than 30 volunteers.

CountyBike is a bike hire service located in Tunbridge Wells that also services bikes. CountryBike runs a collection and delivery service for hiring its bikes and its bikes are also located and available for hire via an app at various locations in West Kent and East Sussex – including Penshurts Place, The Spa Valley Railway at Groombridge and Horam on the Cuckoo Trail.

The Oak Barn, Frame Farm is an eco-friendly, Grade II listed venue nestled in the valley of Beneden. The property was purchased by its founders Tim and Deana Maw in 2015, with the intention of creating an exceptional, eco-friendly venue. Low carbon-technology was incorporated into its design and its extensive renovations took over three years to complete. The venue is now an exclusive and aesthetic venue for weddings, other private function and holidays.

Speaking after being shortlisted for an award, Tim Maw from The Oak Barn, Frame Farm said:  “We are honoured to have been shortlisted as a National Finalist for The Sustainability and Environmental Impact Award from Amazon and the Rural Business Awards. We are extremely proud of this recognition as it was our vision to transform this derelict Grade II listed farm into an ecologically conscious venue that would bring economic growth into the local area. As it is only our second year in the wedding and events business, this has been an exceptionally difficult year and so it was a big boost to our morale to be recognised once again, having been Regional Runner Up for Best Rural Start Up Business last year.”    

“This year has been challenging for many rural businesses and it’s more important than ever to show our support for them,” said John Boumphrey, UK Country Manager, Amazon. “The Rural Business Awards are a great opportunity to highlight the outstanding contribution of rural businesses to the UK’s economy. I would like to congratulate the Kent businesses and all the nominees on being shortlisted and wish them luck ahead of the national final. Thousands of small businesses from rural areas selling on Amazon now export to customers around the world, and to date small businesses on Amazon have created over 85,000 jobs.” 

The Rural Business Awards is the brainchild of Leicestershire businesswomen Anna Price and Jemma Clifford, who wanted to showcase the wealth of entrepreneurial talent in rural areas of Britain. Anna Pricesaid: “We’re proud of the rural sector and all that it’s achieved during this tumultuous year and we’re grateful to be able to highlight its amazing talent. We’d like to commend the Kent businesses for this great achievement, and we wish them and the rest of the shortlisted businesses all the best for the final.” 

This year, businesses had 13 categories they could enter, ranging from Best Rural Start-Up Business and Best Rural Diversification Project, through to Best Rural Professional Services Business and The Triumph Over Adversity Award. 

Due to the impact of COVID-19, this year the awards will be entirely judged and run online. The finalists will skip the regional finals and compete against fellow rural businesses and entrepreneurs from across the UK at the National Final Awards Ceremony on Thursday 25th February 2021.

Winners will be decided by an independent panel of judges drawn from the rural business sector, rural public sector agencies and rural charitable organisations and announced at the National Final Awards Ceremony on Thursday 25th February 2021.

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