IN THE RUNNING: Adam and Karolina Alston are regional finalists in the Countryside Alliance's Rural Oscars awards
IN THE RUNNING: Adam and Karolina Alston are regional finalists in the Countryside Alliance's Rural Oscars awards

A VILLAGE shop and Post Office which endured a tough 2018 is celebrating after being selected as a regional finalist for a prestigious countryside award.

Teesdale Supply Stores, in Cotherstone, was nominated by customers for the Countryside Alliance’s Rural Oscars in the village shop and Post Office category and has been shortlisted as one of four finalists in the North East.

Judges visit the store in the coming months along with the other finalists – Cornhill on Tweed shop, in Northumberland, Slaley Community Village Shop, also in Northumberland, and Middleton St George Post Office, near Darlington.

The annual awards celebrate British food, farming, enterprise and heritage through small rural businesses.

Teesdale Supply Stores owners Adam and Karolina Alston took over about three years ago at a time when it seemed Cotherstone could potentially lose its Post Office. Mr Alston said: “We’re very grateful and humbled to think our customers took the time to send in their nominations for this year’s Rural Oscars.

“I think its fair to say that Teesdale suffered economically in 2018, with the heavy snow and subzero temperatures leading to a slow start in the camping and caravanning sector, farmers losing livestock, and then the heatwave leading to poor grouse conditions.

“It's been tough, and we’ve had it no different, seeing a dramatic reduction in passing trade from visitors to the area, so it’s nice to be able to take something positive out of what was otherwise a hard year.”

The store was recognised for providing a wide range of locally-sourced produce, including freshly baked Coghlands bread, Cotherstone Cheese and Teesdale Cheese, Peat’s pies and meat, South Durham honey and ales from brewers in the area.

It also provides essentials such as fruit and veg, newspapers and magazines and offers a range of Post Office services including banking, postage and mobile top-ups.

Mr Alston added: “It would be great to make it to the finals, held in the Houses of Parliament, and remind the UK what a fantastic place Teesdale is.

“We’d like to thank everyone who nominated us, and has continued to support us through a tough trading year.”

Countryside Alliance awards director Sarah Lee said: “The secret of the Rural Oscars’ popularity is that they honour the people involved in these businesses and not just produce or services.

“They exist to sing the praises of those who work hard to keep our communities and rural economy ticking, but don't seek the spotlight.

“These awards provide a cause for celebration in a time of great uncertainty in our countryside.”