An independent store based in Haynes has won an award at the first Bedfordshire Food and Drink Awards.
Woburn Country Foods, based at West End Farm, Haynes West End, won the Best Independent Butcher Award, and were voted into the top slot by their customers.
The company was started by the family farming partnership of Davies and Davies in 2002 to add value to the pork produced on the farm.
It was originally based in a rented unit at Woburn Sands, but relocated back to West End Farm in 2008 after gaining a grant from the East of England Development agency to convert a redundant grain store into a meat cutting plant and farm shop.
The company has grown rapidly and now has two retail outlets, Haynes West End and the Food Hall at Frosts Woburn Sands, as well as a catering department that supplies many local restaurants, shops and leisure facilities such as Centre Parcs Woburn and the Safari Park as well as Waitrose stores.
An online store was launched earlier this year and deliveries have been made as far as the Orkney Isle and Wales.
Shop managers Andy Jones at Haynes and Dave Alford at Frosts are both delighted and humbled that so many of their loyal customers took the trouble to vote for them.
Managing director Andrew Davies said: “It is a great tribute to the high standard of their work and their customer care that they have won this award.”
Meanwhile, a loyal farm worker has retired after 50 years of working for the Davies family at West End Farm.
Andrew Kirchen started his apprenticeship in 1965 at Home Farm, Haynes, having left the Silver Jubilee school in Bedford. He travelled to work each day on the bus until he was old enough to get a scooter.
Andrew was a natural stockman and having completed his apprenticeship he became head pig man of the West End herd and under his management the herd grew from 30 to 250 sows, selling breeding stock in Bedfordshire and around Europe.
Andrew went on to develop one of the most efficient pig units in the country and was awarded the National Pig Man of The Year, the highest accolade possible in his industry. He later became the yard foreman and assistant at Woburn Country foods.
A party was held at Moreteyne Manor where a message from the Prince of Wales complemented him on his loyalty, hard work and unstinting good humour. The message went on to say that people like Andrew were unsung heroes and the backbone of the rural community. All those present agreed with these sentiments and Andrew and Randy Davies spoke of how life had changed over the 50 years and how brilliantly Andrew had risen to every challenge.
Andrew also received a card and photograph from his long term hero, footballer Ryan Giggs.