SEVERAL local shops and producers have been shortlisted for the upcoming 2012 Countryside Alliance Awards, which are affectionately known as the Rural Oscars.

The awards, which are now in their eighth year, celebrate the characters skills, traditions and enterprise of the countryside, and businesses are nominated by their own supportive customers.

In Alcester, Hillers Farms Shop near Dunnington has been shortlisted in the Local Food category, while Pete the Meat in Astwood Bank has been shortlisted in the Butcher category.

Further south in Droitwich new business, The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club, has been shortlisted for the Start-up category.

Countryside Alliance Midlands regional director Sara Rutherford, said: “It is exciting to see such a diverse range of rural businesses included in this list and I look forward to meeting the people behind each shop counter. Rural businesses continue to have a tough year: bad weather has affected the harvest and tourism, meaning a lean year for many. It is vital that we support our small rural businesses and help to revive our rural economy – celebrating them in the ‘Rural Oscars’ gives them a well-deserved boost.”

Regional winners will be announced in January of next year, and they will then go forward to a grand final, being held at Parliament on March 13, 2013, where the overall UK and Ireland champions will be announced.