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Behind the scenes at this year's (virtual) Rural Business Awards

Posted 24 February

“There has always been a very ‘natural’ fit with between Harper Adams stakeholder groups and the entrant pool - and I love to see so many great examples of innovation and sustainable business practice."

A quartet of Harper Adams University experts are among those serving on the judging panel for this year’s Rural Business Awards national finals.

Each have helped select the winners of this year’s awards – which premiere tomorrow, February 25, on Facebook and YouTube.

While this year’s awards may be virtual, judges have followed the same procedures as ever, using judging software and carefully-controlled procedures to select their chosen winners.

Jane Headley, Principal Lecturer in Land and Agri-Business Management at Harper Adams, said: “As judges we are sharing our business expertise in identifying winning applications. Businesses summarise their strategy, achievements, challenges - and their finances - to present their story.

“These are often small businesses overcoming challenges day to day to grow and develop their businesses. The passion of the entrants shines through and the stories they share are inspiring.

“Many of our students aspire to run their own business and the awareness of good business practice we see as judges helps support and guide the next generation too."

Both founders of the Rural Business Awards, Jemma Clifford and Anna Price, have also worked with Harper Adams students, with Jemma running workshops on digital marketing and Anna speaking as part of Harper Vice-Chancellor Dr David Llewellyn’s New Horizons lecture series. The Land and Business Management team at the university have several years’ association with the awards, hosting regional judging events on campus in previous years and working behind the scenes as judges.

The knowledge the staff draw on during the judging process not only feeds back into their work with students at Harper Adams directly, through the degrees they teach, but also on to a range of rural businesses across the UK.

Joining Jane as one of this year’s judges is Clare Keegan, Business Development Manager at Harper, who has extensive contacts with rural businesses from her work helping the university develop these apprenticeship links within key industry sectors.

She said: “It’s always exciting to be a part of these awards and to personally meet the real people who are so passionate about their rural businesses.

“We always have so much fun getting to know people at these awards and hearing about the incredible sacrifices people have made to get there!”

Her colleagues Rebbeca Payne, Head of Department Land & Agribusiness Management, and Dr Trisha Toop - Academic Engineering Expert AGRI Project, are the other two representatives from Harper Adams on the judging panel this year.

Rebecca added: “We’re more than happy to continue to support the Rural Business Awards as they celebrate the rich and diverse tapestry that is the rural business landscape in the UK.

“There has always been a very ‘natural’ fit with between Harper Adams stakeholder groups and the entrant pool - and I love to see so many great examples of innovation and sustainable business practice."

The ceremony will be streamed live from 4pm this Thursday on the Rural Business awards Facebook page and YouTube channel.

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