Five people involved with horses are among the regional finalists selected for the 2008 Countryside Alliance (CA) Awards.

Lauren Khor from Chalkpit Farm Stables, Philip Holder (Wellington Carriage Company), Kate Rust (Showing Time Tailoring), Nick Ludlow (Horse&Country TV) and Glyn Slade-Jones, a point-to-point-riding butcher, are all hoping to get through the regionals and be selected for the overall final, which will be held at the House of Lords in March.

The awards, which were previously known as the Best Rural Retailer competition, celebrate the characters, skills, enterprises and traditions of people in the countryside.

The awards are in their fourth year and there are four categories — best local food, best village shop, best rural enterprise and best traditional business.

The 140 regional finalists were chosen from 2,500 nominations made by the public.

CA chief executive Simon Hart, who chairs the judging panel, said: “Many heartfelt nominations praised the people as well as the produce and it gives me huge confidence that community spirit and support for rural enterprise, especially for our food producers, is so high.”

Jill Grieve from the Countryside Alliance added: “The idea behind the awards was really to cheer people up. After the hunting act went through everything felt a bit flat. This is about celebrating products and enterprises but it’s also about the outstanding characters and personalities out there.”

2007 Winners
Best local food award: Horstead Farming Group, Norfolk.
Best village shop: a village shop in Nettleton, Wiltshire run by Di Bell
Rural enterprise award: The Jolly Farmers — a pub turned into a deli and kept to pub hours
The best traditional business award – A west Wales butcher — Andrew Rhys from Pembrokeshire.

The nominations for the rural hero award and for the Northern Ireland awards are still open. Visit: www.countrysideallianceawards.co.uk