Unique Derbyshire holiday cottage disabled access specialist wins Britain’s best rural business 2017

RMDA Derbyshire farm with cosy holiday log cabins specialising in high quality disabled access is officially Britain’s countryside-based business of the year after being crowned “champion of champions” at the prestigious UK-wide Rural Business Awards 2017. At a glittering ceremony on October 5 hosted by Jules Hudson of BBC Escape to the Country fame, Hoe Grange Holidays at Brassington, near Matlock, won Best Rural Tourism Business, before going on to win the coveted overall “champion of champions” accolade after judges deemed Hoe Grange’s entry the best they received. The only UK-wide programme dedicated to showcasing the success of rural businesses, the awards are now in their third year and are run in partnership with the CLA and Amazon.

Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner said: “Farm shops, food producers and rural start-ups are a vital part of the UK’s economy, generating over £230 billion every year. It is fantastic to see the breadth of talent on display across our rural communities and I am delighted so many hardworking businesses have been honoured.”

“The stories of these successful rural businesses are incredibly inspiring and just go to show the immense talent that exists at the heart of our rural communities in the UK,” said Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon. “I would like to extend a hearty congratulations to those who were successful in the awards, and to thank all those who entered and shared their successes, and wish them the very best for the future.”

Hoe Grange Holidays offers cosy log cabins and luxurious glamping pods set in a working farm amid stunning Peak District landscape. When owners David and Felicity Brown first investigated self-catering tourism to supplement their dairy farm income in 2005, market research showed there was a large supply of standard self-catering properties in the Peak District but a lack of accessible accommodation. With nine million people registered disabled nationally, but only 1,000 National Accessible Scheme rated holiday properties, the couple spotted a gap in the market to provide quality accessible accommodation with a home from home feel.

Over the past decade Hoe Grange Holidays has become a specialist in accessible accommodation, winning many national awards. The log cabins are fully wheelchair accessible with wet room showers and a wide range of additional specialist equipment, such as a mobile hoist and electric profile beds. Hoe Grange is also the first and only UK accommodation provider to offer its own Boma 7 off-road wheelchair for guests and local people. The all-terrain buggy enables guests to explore the countryside with family and friends. Child and dog friendly, Hoe Grange even offers guests the opportunity to bring their own horse on holiday! Judges thought Hoe Grange Holidays was a great idea and an excellent business based on a solid premise, with sound energy-efficient principles.

David Brown from Hoe Grange Holidays said, “We started out as dairy farmers but spotted an opportunity to diversify our business and offer a positive experience for people to enjoy in the Derbyshire countryside. To have our success acknowledged at the Rural Business Awards is testament to all our hard work and to the people who have supported us along the way. We love to promote other rural businesses and use sustainable, economically friendly materials so we see the Rural Business Awards as the ultimate recognition for rural enterprises all over the country. It’s obviously a great honour to be named as Champion of Champions at this year’s ceremony and we can’t wait to continue improving our facilities in 2018”.

As part of the Pedal Peak project Hoe Grange are installing secure cycle storage so guests can bring their bicycles on holiday to explore countryside trails. There will also be a new electric car charging point and a small onsite shop selling #LoveLocal produce and crafts.

The RBAs are the brainchild of Leicestershire businesswomen Anna Price and Jemma Clifford, who wanted to showcase the wealth of entrepreneurial talent in rural areas of Britain – a sector of the economy they felt was all-too-often overlooked in favour of large city-based firms.

The awards are organised by rural businesses for rural businesses and judged by people who understand the rural sector, which is growing rapidly and employs in excess of 3.4 million people in more than 600,000 businesses across the UK.

The achievement of Hoe Grange Holidays is even more remarkable as tourism was the most popular category of this year’s awards, which themselves saw nearly three times as many entries as in 2016 with businesses from 52 counties in the UK sending in their applications. The awards were split into 13 categories with five finalists in each, of which one winner, one runner-up and three highly commended prizes were awarded, plus the overall champion of champions. After tourism, the second most popular category of the awards was diversification, and overall there was particularly strong representation from Yorkshireand Lancashire.

Awards co-founder Anna Price said: “We had more entries in our tourism category than any other but Hoe Grange Holidays just blew us away and was a clear winner, not only in this category but of the whole awards. The shortage of holiday providers offering good quality disabled access is shocking and we loved how Hoe Grange was showing such imagination in filling this gap in the market. Huge congratulations to them, and we wish them every success in the future.

“The Rural Business Awards give rural enterprises of all sizes the opportunity to showcase their success and the contribution they are making to our thriving rural economy – just the firms that have entered in 2017 have combined turnovers well in excess of £70m. Hundreds of companies enter the RBAs each year and the finals illustrate the best businesses the countryside has to offer in each of the 13 categories.”

CLA Director General Helen Woolley said: “The CLA is delighted to partner with the Rural Business Awards to highlight the vital contribution our rural areas make to the wider economy.

“It was a great pleasure for me to be a part of the judging panel to see the passion for rural business demonstrated by the finalists. My congratulations go to all the winners who have shown great expertise in their field and have a real understanding of how they fit into the rural economy as a whole. I urge all our winners to keep flying the flag for rural business!”

This year’s glittering awards ceremony was held at Denbies Wine Estates in Surrey Next year’s awards will be open for entries in November 2017. To find out more, visit www.ruralbusinessawards.co.uk  

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