Ludwell Stores, the village shop and Post Office at Ludwell near Shaftesbury, has beaten competition from across the UK and Ireland to clinch a special 10th anniversary Countryside Alliance Award Champion of Champions prize. The shop topped a national poll, voted for by the public, and owners Phil and Jo James were at Parliament on Wednesday 4th February to receive their award from Defra Secretary Liz Truss MP.
Ludwell Stores first won the UK & Ireland Village Shop/ Post Office title in 2011, qualifying Phil and Jo to compete in the 10th anniversary Champion of Champions poll. All former UK & Ireland title holders competed, the winners were voted for in a public vote and over 30,000 votes were polled.
The Secretary of State for Defra, the Rt Hon Liz Truss MP, commented: ““This event is a brilliant opportunity to showcase our rural heroes who promote the best our countryside has to offer, helping to build a stronger economy.
“This year’s awards are in their tenth year and the high quality of entries shows just how much we have to celebrate. Our countryside businesses, from village shops to family run farms, are crucial to the future of our economy and make it the exciting, vibrant powerhouse it is today.
“I’m especially passionate about increasing the opportunity at every level to choose healthy, seasonal, local produce. That’s why we back the Local Food award and this year’s winner, Oliver Paul from Suffolk Food Hall, is doing fantastic work encouraging more people to eat locally and support our farmers.
“We’re also unlocking the huge potential for growth in the countryside through supporting rural businesses, better transport links and speedier broadband, so that more entrepreneurs can make the most of every opportunity available to them.”
The Awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage through our small hard-working businesses. They have in their ten years of operation become the definitive rural business award to win. Thousands of businesses have been nominated during the 10 years of the Awards, with over 35,000 public nominations recommending them for honours.
Countryside Alliance executive chairman Barney White-Spunner announced to the Parliamentary reception: “I am thrilled to declare that the winners of the Village Shop/ Post Office Champion of Champions plaque are Phil and Jo James, who run Ludwell Village Stores in Dorset. Phil and Jo run far more than just a village shop – it is an outlet for local artists, runs an oil buying group, Phil also runs the valued Post Office counter, an ever dwindling resource, while Jo is a governor at the local Primary School. But it’s not just the community, Dorset food producers also win: on sale are 4,000 products and more local produce than any supermarket.”
Jo said: “We took over a thriving village shop, which had been at the centre of the community for about 200 years – eight years ago. Our secret of success is a big smile and team of lovely ladies who work in the shop and make it a really welcoming place to work and shop.”