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Thank you to everyone who nominated, and of course – to your Country Heroes for making such a significant difference to your communities!

We received hundreds of nominations across the country, and our judges have read and been truly touched by all of them. We've read stories about beneficient food producers, caring charities, altruistic farmers, and compassionate teachers – all with one thing in common; they've selflessly gone above and beyond to make a difference to their local communities over the last year.

"We have been inundated with nominations, which just goes to show how many worthy heroes there are out there. Thank you so much."

Jack Cordery CEO, Mole Valley Farmers

“I am so proud to have been part of the search for the nation's Country Heroes of 2021. The winners' stories are truly inspiring and I think the entire rural community will join me in saying a big thank you for all that they have done and continue to do in supporting others.”

Kaleb Cooper

Amazon Prime Video’s Clarkson’s Farm

So, without further ado, let's meet your Country Heroes of 2021 as they collect their 'thank you' from Mole Valley Farmers – a jumbo Christmas hamper worth over £500!

If you’d like to learn more about the Gleaning Cornwall Network and how they help to reduce food poverty within the Cornish community, please visit their website: https://gleaningcornwall.org.uk/

Holly Whitelaw | Penzance

Nominee Name | Sally Hole & Teresa

Why Holly is a Country Hero:

When Holly heard of the UK’s food poverty crisis, she felt the need to do something which would make a real difference to those who were affected the most. By reaching out and working with local famers across Cornwall she gained an understanding of the level of food waste they had on their farms, she then recruited volunteers to visit the farms and 'glean' all the healthy food at risk of going to waste.

From here, the Gleaning Cornwall Network was created – a scheme set up by Holly which unites communities by “gleaning” farm surplus and ensuring those who face food poverty do not go hungry. In the last 3 months alone, over 35 tonnes of vegetables were gleaned and redistributed to the most vulnerable within the region.

The network goes from strength to strength and nurtures community spirit as farmers, volunteers and food banks unite in a single vision of reducing food poverty across Cornwall and beyond.

Sally Hole who nominated Holly says… “Holly has been the driving force, she has held the vision and just plugged away. She is an inspiration!”

Holly is a force of nature and that’s why she is one of our 2021 Country Heroes. Thank you, Holly!

“Holly has been the driving force, she has held the vision and just plugged away. She is an inspiration!”

Rebecca Sharples | South Molton

Nominee Name | Amanda Daw, Bridget Perriman and Catherine Williams

Why Rebecca is a Country Hero:

Rebecca set up the local division of the Bluetits Chill Swimmers group for Westward Ho! and has been instrumental in helping hundreds of people to discover the mental and physical benefits of open water swimming - the group has proven to be extremely popular and has risen to nearly 900 members in less than 12 months!

To ensure members continue to reap the wellbeing benefits through all seasons, Rebecca has also secured sessions at a local activity centre to enable swimming to continue through the dark winter months in a safe environment.

Whilst holding down a demanding job and bringing up her family, Rebecca always makes time for the group and actively encourages anyone that she’s in the water with, a fellow member and nominator says, “…her encouragement to all levels of swimmers and dippers is second to none, she is not only a great leader but offers support and commitment to the group. In these difficult months she is a true inspiration to all members of the group and wholly deserves to be recognised”.

On hearing that she had won a Country Heroes award Rebecca said… Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it. That is so very lovely. I have had a really rubbish week and this has just made it so much better!”

We’re glad we made your week better Rebecca and thank you for all that you have done and continue to do to support the wellbeing of your local swimming community. It is our pleasure to award you a Country Hero of 2021.

Bluetits Chill Swimmers are national group of cold-water swimmers whose mission is to create a confident capable community. To join their flock, please visit https://thebluetits.co/

"Her encouragement to all levels of swimmers and dippers is second to none, she is not only a great leader but offers support and commitment to the group. In these difficult months she is a true inspiration to all members of the group and wholly deserves to be recognised".

Diana Bourne | Frome

Nominee Name | Martin Brown

Why Diana is a Country Hero:

Diana has been instrumental in the administration of the Frome Market Health Hub (FMHH) – an initiative that could help save the lives of busy farmers who put off a trip to the doctors by giving them, their families, and agricultural workers free access to confidential health checks, without the need to book an appointment.

The farming community appreciate the excellent service which is all free of charge and available on regular market days. The nurses at FMHH understand the farming way of life, with all its daily stresses and it is fine to attend appointments in overalls and dirty wellies!

Diana took the lead in organising the NHS nursing team at FMHH and negotiated with the Operational Manager for the Health Hubs in Somerset to ensure FMHH has the correct level of nursing support for the entire farming community in and around Frome.

Martin Brown who nominated Diana says, “…Diana continues to support the FMHH charity daily, putting in hours of unpaid time in a cheerful and helpful manner. I am in no doubt that we would not have this wonderful facility for farmers and their families without Diana's support”.

On hearing her award, Diana’s response, “…I am absolutely overwhelmed. The work I do is an absolute privilege and an honour. I just happen to be in the right place, at the right time, it’s no more than that really. Thank you so very much.”

The honour is all ours Diana, thank you for being our Frome Country Hero of 2021.

"Diana continues to support the FMHH charity daily, putting in hours of unpaid time in a cheerful and helpful manner. I am in no doubt that we would not have this wonderful facility for farmers and their families without Diana's support”.

John Yeoman | Newton Abbot

Nominee Name | Andrew Goodridge

Why John is a Country Hero:

John is a true country man who regularly puts the needs of others first and is extremely passionate when it comes to raising awareness to support agricultural communities.

Since 1980, John has been fundraising to show his support of the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution. His fund-raising efforts include an annual Burns Night which to date has raised over £25,000 for the charity and he has toured the UK in not one but two Tractor Marathons – something which is no easy feat!

He has dedicated countless hours of his own time to support the Community of Malborough as Chairperson and has held positions as Chair of Kingsbridge NFU and also as a member of the NFU Livestock committee for 20 years. Alongside these roles, he also found the time to support the ongoing activities of Young Farmers and was also the chairman of LAG for 14 years.

It is people like John who play a pivotal role in the wellbeing of our local communities, when we told John he had won, he said, “Well, that’s fantastic. Thank you very much. I don’t know what to say except thank you very much. I’m lost for words. Thank you!”

It is for us to thank you John, and it is our honour to acknowledge all that you do, we are privileged that you are a Country Hero of 2021. 

RABI provides essential support to those who are currently working in agriculture and those who are no longer working due to illness, injury, disability, or age. To talk in confidence to a member of the RABI team please call their dedicated helpline on 0800 188 4444 or for more information visit https://rabi.org.uk/  

His fund-raising efforts include an annual Burns Night which to date has raised over £25,000 for the charity and he has toured the UK in not one but two Tractor Marathons – something which is no easy feat!

For more information on the Wivey Cares charity please visit https://wiveycares.net/

The Wivey Food Project | Cullompton

Nominee Name | Flora Bartlett

Why The Wivey Food Projects are Country Heroes:

The Wivey Food Project, based in Wiveliscombe in Somerset, came together during the second lockdown and was a way of taking surplus food from local shops and turning them into nutritious meals to offer their rural community during the Pandemic. Over the course of the past 12 months, they have provided more than 20,000 meals to those most in need.  

Set up by Kate and Rosie, The Wivey Food Project has provided weekly meals to so many, including those who are isolated, the elderly, working families with young children and those who have contracted Covid or long Covid and need a helping hand. They say anyone, and everyone, can apply for their meals!

Flora Bartlett, who nominated says: “…for over a year now the amazing volunteers have come in every week, fostering a super sense of community that has also supported everyone’s mental health”.

Thank you to all of those who make The Wivey Food Project such an amazing community initiative, you are all Country Heroes of 2021.

“…for over a year now the amazing volunteers have come in every week, fostering a super sense of community that has also supported everyone’s mental health”.

Diane South | St Columb

Nominee Name | Martin South

Why Diane is a Country Hero:

Diane is the co-founder of Prickles and Paws Hedgehog Rescue based in Cubert, Cornwall, a charity dedicated to the rescue, emergency care, rehabilitation, and release of native British wildlife in Cornwall and West Devon.

The charity started up 13 years ago at Diane’s home with just 2 hedgehogs to rehabilitate, compare this to 2021 with over 1,050 annual admissions and up to 100 hedgehogs to care for at any one time. Diane is absolutely dedicated to the welfare of the hedgehogs in her care, getting up at 6am each day and finishing around 10pm if the day has gone smoothly!

Diane has passed her vast knowledge onto her daughter and now both have become hedgehog rehabilitation experts providing training to vets and veterinary nurses. They have a tireless passion for hedgehogs and raising awareness of how we can support their numbers, their educational talks are inspiring and have reached groups across the UK and beyond!

Thank you, Diane, for the important work you do to protect these vulnerable creatures and raise awareness of their plight, a thoroughly well-deserved Country Hero of 2021.

For more information on Prickles and Paws and the amazing work they do to protect our hedgehogs please visit https://www.pricklesandpaws.org/ and see how you can turn your garden into a hedgehog friendly one https://www.pricklesandpaws.org/help-hedgehogs

The charity started up 13 years ago at Diane’s home with just 2 hedgehogs to rehabilitate, compare this to 2021 with over 1,050 annual admissions and up to 100 hedgehogs to care for at any one time

Kathleen Davies | Newbury

Nominee Name | MCS Newbury

Why Kathleen is a Country Hero:

The Foxglove Care Farm Project offers learning opportunities for disadvantaged teenagers who are struggling in mainstream school and for adults who are affected by their mental health. It is a safe place to learn about farming and countryside life with the aim of improving mental health and wellbeing by connecting the care of land and animals with the care of people.

Kathleen is instrumental in the successful running of the project and in September 2021 she organised and launched a free (and fun!) open day at the Foxglove Care Farm for her local community to learn and appreciate everything farming and countryside life offers. The open day welcomed over 3,000 visitors in a single day!

Kathleen was nominated by our Newbury store team who said: “… Kathe is dedicated to farming and raising awareness, she bought the community together for such a fun day which is why we would like to nominate her”.

Thank you, Kathleen, for all that you do and sharing our passion for the countryside way of life. You are our Newbury Country Hero of 2021!

“… Kathe is dedicated to farming and raising awareness, she bought the community together for such a fun day which is why we would like to nominate her”.

David Corney | Newport, Isle of Wight

Nominee Name | 54 nominations from the Isle of Wight equine community

Why David is a Country Hero:

Country Heroes is our way of celebrating the best of the British countryside, by finding and giving thanks to the ordinary people who make an extraordinary difference to their local community and our rural way of life.

We launched our Country Heroes campaign on 1st November, between then and 28th November when nominations closed, David Corney received an overwhelming number of nominations from the Isle of Wight equestrian community for his dedicated and dependable transport service. The utmost respect and trust are held for David which is reflected in the nominations we received. 

Sadly, David recently passed away, he will be sorely missed by all those whose lives he touched as he was such a beloved member of his local horse community. He was a hero in many people’s eyes.

Caroline McToldridge says: “Everyone loved him for being kind and helping others in sometimes stressful situations. He was dependable and much loved by his human clients and even more loved by his horse clients. You could trust Dave with your precious horses and know that they couldn’t be in better hands”.

We are honoured to pay our respects to David, by recognising him as one of our Country Heroes of 2021.

“Everyone loved him for being kind and helping others in sometimes stressful situations. He was dependable and much loved by his human clients and even more loved by his horse clients. You could trust Dave with your precious horses and know that they couldn’t be in better hands”

If you are interested in joining the Burton Conservation Volunteers or would like to know more, please visit https://bcvburton.wordpress.com/

Lawrence Oates | Fauld

Nominee Name | Lynn Pickering

Why Lawrence is a Country Hero:

For over 25 years Lawrence has led the Burton Conservation Volunteers, a group set up to improve the environment, promote wildlife conservation and encourage community awareness in and around the Burton-upon-Trent area.  

The group is inclusive to all and many people with learning disabilities have benefitted from Lawrence’s passionate knowledge and encouraging approach. He has been instrumental in improving the rights of way in his local area by replacing stiles and using kissing gates to enable access and provides ongoing advice and guidance to so many on hedge laying, coppicing, path laying and wildflower meadows.

Lynn Pickering who nominated Lawrence said: “…he is a patient, knowledgeable tutor ever keen to pass on his considerable skills”.

Thank you, Lawrence, for providing and passing on your invaluable advice which supports our way of life and for making our countryside a beautiful place to enjoy. A worthy Country Hero of 2021.

“…he is a patient, knowledgeable tutor ever keen to pass on his considerable skills”.

Merrylegs Charitable Trust | Stamford

Nominee Name | Donna Crump, Linda Birr-Pixton and Stacey Ferguson

Why Merrylegs Charitable Trust are Country Heroes:

Merrylegs offers a safe place for neglected, abused and unclaimed animals whilst providing the best possible care before finding them their loving new homes. Throughout the pandemic the team kept up all their efforts and hard work by rescuing and taking care of animals during the toughest of times! 

Charity founder Anna Nicholas was a vet and widely known and respected throughout the region for her true grit and love of putting animals before people. Sadly, Anna recently passed away, but the team are carrying on with her amazing work by continuing to do a wonderful job of taking care of unwanted abandoned animals of every shape and size, all of which they do without complaint or asking for anything.

Thank you to the team at Merrylegs Chartiable Trust for your tireless energy and devotion for the wellbeing of all animals who come into your care - you are all Country Heroes!

To see how you can support the Merrylegs Chartiable Trust please visit https://www.merrylegscharitabletrust.org/

Throughout the pandemic the team kept up all their efforts and hard work by rescuing and taking care of animals during the toughest of times! 

East Anglian Air Ambulance exists to save lives by delivering highly skilled doctors and critical care paramedics by air or car to seriously ill or injured people in the region. To find out more, please visit https://www.eaaa.org.uk/

Jonathan Willis | Stamford

Nominee Name | Stacey Stringer

Why Jonathan is a Country Hero:

Jonathan has raised an incredible £50,000 for the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) to show his gratitude for their service following a near fatal farm accident last year.

Jonathan was working on his farm near Wisbech on 26 October 2020 when the accident happened. He had been unloading a trailer of straw bales when he got out of his forklift to untie some straps on the trailer. As he was standing between the forklift and the trailer, the forklift rolled forward and he became impaled on the one of the tines. Jonathan quickly raised the alarm and the EAAA were called out.

One year on from the accident, Jonathan and his family have raised donations via a charity ball in aid of the EAAA to thank them for the part they played in his rescue and to support a charity whose service is lifesaving to so many.

It is our pleasure to announce Jonathan as one of our Country Heroes of 2021.

Jonathan and his family have raised donations via a charity ball in aid of the EAAA to thank them for the part they played in his rescue and to support a charity whose service is lifesaving to so many.

Anne Scott | Piercebridge

Nominee Name | Lynne Metcalfe

Why Anne is a Country Hero:

Anne puts other people’s needs before her own. She has a busy family life as a hill farmer's wife and works for Upper Teaside Agricultural Support Services (UTASS). Despite having these two full time roles she still finds the time to help others within her community and lends a hand to volunteering wherever it is required.

The pandemic hit rural communities hard with isolation and financial hardship causing extra anxiety and stress in already difficult times.  But it is people like Anne who make a real difference to somebody else’s day, with her selfless attitude, positivity, cheerful smile and her ability to provide extra special support to those who need it most in her community.

Lynne Metcalfe who nominated Anne said: “…she is an amazing lady and ambassador for the hard-working farming community of Teesdale. She well deserves a thank you for the unseen work she does and will continue to do for the whole community of Teesdale”.

On hearing she had won Anne said: “…we have been 6 days without electricity and the farming community here is very rural, so we (UTASS) have been going around all week making sure that those who are isolated aren’t going without heating and food. It has been a very difficult week, so this is just the news we need. Thank you so much!”

Thank you, Anne - it is people like you who make a real difference to the lives of those in their community and are the very reason why we have our Country Heroes awards!

Anne is pictured here in the centre of the photo. UTASS help to prevent problems from getting to the desperate stage and assist in maintaining a safer, happier self-sustaining community. For more information, please visit https://www.utass.org/

"She is an amazing lady and ambassador for the hard-working farming community of Teesdale. She well deserves a thank you for the unseen work she does and will continue to do for the whole community of Teesdale".

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