THREE Teesdale businesses have been nominated for regional 'rural Oscars'.

Now in their eighth year, the Countryside Alliance Awards celebrate the skills, traditions and enterprise of rural areas.

In the butcher category, F Simpson and Son, from Cockfield, along with Barnard Castle's William Peat will battle it out against a business from Morpeth, Northumberland.

Cross Lanes Organic Farm, near Barnard Castle, is vying for success in the start-up section.

Regional winners will be announced in January and overall UK champions will be unveiled in March.

Jim Higginson, owner of William Peat, said offering customers local produce with full traceability along with expert service of staff was key to their success.

He said: “We try to select the finest quality. Beef is our speciality, we buy it from Darlington, Hexham and Northallerton rather than from one farmer.

“We go to the mart and pick out what we perceive to be the best.”

At Cockfield, Joe Simpson, his partner Susan Jackson and their team keep a herd of 40-50 beef cattle which are slaughtered in their own abattoir.

Mr Simpson, the third generation of Simpson to run the business, said: “You could not get the same consistency of quality in a supermarket.

“We know the customers and offer a personal service to give them what they want.

“We also supply one or two of the best hotels and they seem happy.”

In its first year, Cross Lanes Farm has received widespread recognition in a number of awards.

Manager Deborah Hare said: “Our aim is to support local growers and producers.

“At the last count we are supporting about 95 individuals from both the food and craft sector, the majority within a 20-mile radius.

“This nomination can only strengthen and reinforce our support for local businesses and the local economy.”