SEVERAL enterprising rural businesses in the region have been nominated for a prestigious award.

The finalists in the Countryside Alliance Awards include a village market, a children's farm and several shops.

The awards, also known as the ‘rural oscars’, are designed to celebrate characters, skills, traditions and enterprise in the countryside. It is now in its seventh year.

Each finalist has received nominations from customers and supporters. Those selected will go through to the finals held at a lavish ceremony at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster next March.

In County Durham, Down at the Farm children’s farm in Houghton-le-Spring has been nominated in the enterprise category. Petch butchers in Nunthorpe, Middlesbrough is also in the running for an award. The six finalists from North Yorkshire include three Ryedale businesses: Hunters of Helmsley, Hovingham Village Market and Wardill Bros General Store in Thornton-le-Dale.

There are also two farm shops near York in the running: Beningbrough Home Farm Shop and The Farmer’s Cart. Harrogate’s Dales Stores has been nominated.

Simon Hamlyn, the Alliance’s Yorkshire regional director said: “What we’re looking for with these businesses is not just how well they promote themselves in terms of economic performance but how they react to the local community around them.

“But I wish to congratulate all these businesses that make rural life much more pleasurable in these current times of austerity.”