On 19 June, the six Post Offices from across England and Wales named regional winners in the 2019 Countryside Alliance Awards, or Rural Oscars, were invited to an awards ceremony at the Houses of Parliament. Hampstead Norreys Community Shop in Berkshire was named national champion in the Village Store and Post Office category.
Sutton General Store and Post Office in Cheshire, owned by Alan and Lisa Bolshaw, was highly commended.
Postmaster Alan Bolshaw said: “We’re quite shocked to get this far and be Highly Commended, as we’ve only been running this branch for 19 months. We’re really proud of course and we’re grateful for the support we’ve had from our customers.
And about the great customer reaction to the news online, Alan added, “That’s all down to my wife Lisa, she runs our Facebook page. I’d like to thank her for all her work over the years, running our businesses together and putting up with me!”
Customers happy to hear the news online
Posts on the Facebook page for Sutton General Store and Post Office show how popular they are with their customers and their local MP, David Rutley.
“Something great for the community”
Countryside Alliance Awards director Sarah Lee said: “Alan has taken over his village shop and made it something great for the community. His background is in greengrocery and the shop now excels in this area.
“Alan has great plans for the shop – including a refit, major building works, re-laying the carpark and expansion outside to create an area for charities to promote themselves, run events and host a farmers’ market. He tries to source as much food locally as he can and provides a real service, as the nearest other shops are 20 mins away.”
Rural communities generate £250 billion for economy
All of the Regional winners, of which six were stores with Post Offices, were presented with commemorative plaques by Defra Rural Affairs minister, Lord Gardiner of Kimble. These can be displayed outside their branches, a great way to recognise their achievement and share it with their customers.
Lord Gardiner said: “I am delighted that so many hard-working rural enterprises - from food and drink businesses to village post offices and butcher shops - have been honoured with these renowned awards.
“Rural communities generate almost £250 billion for our economy, and it is critical that we acknowledge those organisations that make vital contributions to vibrant communities, prosperity and wellbeing.”
To see profiles of the regional winners, visit Countryside-Alliance.org/our work/campaigns/caawards.