A FREE-RANGE hen supplier has been named Micro Business of the Year.

Durham Hens beat of competition from small businesses from across the country to receive the prestigious titled at the Federation of Small Businesses and Worldpay UK Business Awards.

The family-run business, based in Tow Law, sells laying hens, pure and rare breed chickens, fertile hatching eggs and poultry supplies.

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It was set up by Margaret and Alec Manchester after they began rearing chicks as a hobby ten years ago. They now employ six people and have won numerous awards.

The award ceremony took place at The Globe in London and was hosted by Tim Campbell MBE, the first winner of the BBC television show The Apprentice. Guest speakers included Liberal Democrats leader, Tim Farron MP, and the Minister for Small Businesses, Margot Stour MP .

Mrs Manchester said: “It is very satisfying, and touching, to see how Durham Hens has grown and developed to meet demand.

“It’s was an honour to be selected as a finalist, but to win the national title is a phenomenal achievement. To have our team’s hard work and dedication recognised at this level is just amazing!”

Durham Hens also sells poultry supplies through e-commerce and offers a regional delivery service, as well as courses on chicken-keeping and a boarding service for hens.