The Countryside Alliance handed out its prestigious ‘Rural Oscars’ at a Parliamentary reception on Wednesday 7th March. British and Irish titles go to businesses from Suffolk, Dorset, Shropshire and the Republic of Ireland and the Rural Hero of 2011 title goes to a Co Antrim Angler who founded a Trust to combat river pollution. The seventh annual Countryside Alliance Awards, nicknamed the ‘Rural Oscars’, were launched in September and attracted more than 2.500 nominations from across Britain and Ireland. The Awards are the Countryside Alliance’s popular annual celebration of our countryside and shine a spotlight on those who go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure rural communities and businesses thrive. The Awards run across ten regions and four categories. Each region declared its winners in January with those winners then qualifying for the grand final. Countryside Alliance executive chairman Barney White-Spunner announced the winners at a packed Parliamentary reception which was attended by all regional winners, keen to add an overall title to their regional one. The winners’ plaques (and commendation certificates) were presented by DEFRA Minister Richard Benyon MP and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Government Spokesperson for DEFRA, Lord Taylor of Holbeach.