Neroche Woodlanders – a social enterprise based at Young Wood on the edge of the Blackdown Hills – has beaten competition from across the country to win the award, which celebrates a business that is tackling loneliness and isolation in rural areas.
The Plunkett Foundation supports rural communities across the UK to tackle the issues they face through community business.
James Alcock, Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation, said: “Neroche Woodlanders have made a huge difference to a lot of people. The small touch of working with a local bus company to connect services and bring people to the woods is an example of how they literally go the extra mile to help. This community business brings people together. They are very worthy recipients of the Connecting the Community Award and they will be an inspiration to others across the country. I’m delighted to be able to celebrate their continued success with this award.”
Twenty one community businesses were shortlisted for the 2019 Rural Community Business Awards. Finalists ranged from farms and pubs to cafés, shops and a woodland.
Tim Coomer, Business Development Manager at Co-operative & Community Finance, said: “We are thrilled for Neroche Woodlanders. Their programmes of work supporting the health and well-being of families and young and old alike through education and physical activity is a fantastic way to support their local community. Young Wood sounds like an amazing and inspirational place and in community stewardship will, I’m sure, be protected and managed for many future generations to come.”
The Plunkett Foundation is marking its centenary year. Since 2013 the charity has been recognising community businesses with their annual awards. This year the awards featured seven categories – all of which celebrate the achievements of groups across the country who have come together in community organisations and found the answer to the challenges they face through community businesses.
The awards ceremony took place on Wednesday 27 November at Burlington House in London.