WINCHESTER’S MP has given his backing to a farm shop which has made it to the final of the “Rural Oscars”.

The West Lea Farm Shop, near Alresford, is a finalist in the Countryside Alliance Awards.

The awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of British food and farming, enterprise and heritage through small hard-working businesses.

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Steve Brine, the MP for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford, said: “The Countryside Alliance Awards celebrate those businesses that go the extra mile and are the cornerstone of our rural communities.

“West Lea Farm Shop has shown that by reaching the regional finals, which is a testament to the hard work and service it provides to the community. I will be following its progress with pride and will be championing its success.”

Rachel Peppiatt, the owner of West Lea Farm Shop, said: “I am really thrilled to be a finalist. I’ve worked to support as many local businesses as I can and 90% of our suppliers are now within 20 miles of the shop. We’ve really tried to create a community hub here and are really proud of what we’ve done.”

Now in their 17th year, the Countryside Alliance Awards are set apart from other award schemes as they are driven entirely by public nomination.

Thousands of businesses have been nominated, with West Lea Farm Shop being one of only five finalists in the Local Food and Drink category.

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Countryside Alliance Awards director, Sarah Lee, said: “We have been overwhelmed by nominations this year.

“The secret to the Rural Oscars’ popularity is that they honour the people involved in these businesses and not just their produce or services. They exist to sing the praises of those who work hard to keep our communities and rural economy ticking, but don’t seek the spotlight. Our local produce is second to none and there are many community heroes and businesses worthy of national recognition.”

More information about the Countryside Alliance Awards can be found on the Countryside Alliance website.