H Weatherheads & Sons, crowned national champion in Rural Oscars

Nidderdale butchers H Weatherhead & Sons have been crowned UK champions in the Countryside Alliance Awards.

We are the national champions. Pictured at the Countryside Alliance Awards are, from left, executive chairman Sir Barney White-Spunner, H Weatherhead & Sons’ Andrew Weatherhead, Secretary of State for Defra Owen Paterson MP, Sally and Molly Weatherhead, and MP for Skipton & Ripon Julian Smith.

The High Street shop, chosen as Yorkshire regional champions in the annual awards, aka “The Rural Oscars,” for the past two years, progressed to win the overall national title in the 2013 Countryside Alliance Awards for the UK & Ireland.

It was presented to Weatherhead’s by the Secretary of State for Defra, Owen Paterson MP, at a ceremony at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 30th April 2014

Andrew Weatherhead said: “While we have won numerous awards over the years, this accolade is the pinnacle of our many achievements to date. It is true testament to all we have done for the past 138 years, a wonderful tribute to our heritage and our passion.

“Every single member of the Weatherhead’s team – our butchers, our own farm, in fact everyone involved with the business has contributed to this fantastic achievement. We are over the moon. It really is a dream come true.”

In awarding H Weatherhead & Sons the national title, judges commented: “Last year’s Yorkshire champions return bigger and better than ever. Now with Q Guild status – the hallmark of the quality butcher – Weatherhead’s have been Pateley Bridge butchers for generations and have adapted and survived, while remaining relevant and busy on the modern high street.

“A visit to their farm shows the commitment to animal welfare, traceability and taste– all things consumers should insist upon. The personal charisma of Andrew Weatherhead and his young daughter’s enthusiasm for farming mean the Weatherheads of Pateley Bridge are a brand to be reckoned with.”

The daughter of Andrew and his wife Sally mentioned in despatches is six-year-old Molly, a pupil at St Cuthbert’s Primary School in Pateley Bridge. Andrew said: “She loves to look after the sheep on the farm and helps me in the shop to smoke our own bacon. She already looks set to become the sixth generation Weatherhead to join the family business!”

The awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of the rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage of the nation’s small hard-working businesses. They are now in their ninth year and have become the definitive rural business award to win.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: “These awards celebrate rural businesses across the UK from post offices to butchers. They are the backbone of rural life and it is vital that we do all we can help create the right conditions to allow these businesses to compete and thrive.”

The Parliamentary reception was attended by regional champions from across the UK and Ireland and the national winners were announced live by Countryside Alliance chairman Kate Hoey MP.

H Weatherhead & Sons was one of a number of Yorkshire businesses that swept the board at the 2013 Countryside Alliance Awards.

Local Food winner was Our Cow Molly, from Dungworth in South Yorkshire, while start-up winner was Spuds and Berries Farm Shop in Brackenholme, near York. A special Rural Hero award was also presented to May Stocks, who runs the Highgate Farm Shop at Heptonstall, Hebden Bridge.

Joint-director of the awards Sarah Lee said: “Yorkshire can be very proud! Its successes in this year’s awards are phenomenal. The standard of the awards nominees always improves year on year but that of the produce, industry and heritage from Yorkshire this year was outstanding and we are delighted to award them so many of the spoils.”

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