YORKSHIRE rural businesses shone bright at a national awards ceremony – three won titles and three were runners-up or highly commended.

The Rural Business Awards 2017, held at Denbies Wine Estates in Surrey, attracted entries from 52 counties in 13 categories.

T Soanes & Son Poultry from East Yorkshire was named Rural Employer of the Year and Best Rural Food and Drink Business; Wold Top Brewery from Driffield won the Outstanding Rural Diversification project title; and Herdysleep, wool mattress makers from Leeds won the Best Rural Start-up award.

T Soanes & Son rears more than five million birds a year on 11 farms, selling premium chicken to butchers, restaurateurs and independent retailers in Yorkshire and wholesalers nationwide.

The 70 year-old business employs more than 20 and is run by the third and fourth generation of the family.

Judges said staff were clearly valued and treated as an asset. They particularly liked the focus on promoting from within, developing talent and impacting positively on local lives.

Andrew Soanes said: "It’s wonderful to be recognised as the Best Food and Drink Business, but to be awarded Rural Employer of the Year is particularly special because it recognises how we run our company and how much we value, and invest in, our employees."

Herdysleep is a handcrafted mattress-in-a-box company founded in 2017 by Lake District brand Herdy in collaboration with mattress makers, Harrison Spinks.

Mattresses are made with wool from the Lake District's native Herdwick sheep. To improve sustainability Herdysleep pays twice the market rate for its wool and judges said the business was having a real impact on the rural economy.

Wold Top Brewery is based on a 600-acre farm on the Yorkshire Wolds near Driffield. The Mellor family opened the brewery in 2003 to boost farm income. Their award-winning beer uses 98 per cent British ingredients with 95 per cent of its barley coming from the farm.

The family then started a specialist bottling business, a wedding and events venue, and takes part in the National Garden Scheme.

Judges said it was a great example of a diversified farm business making use of all its natural assets and working in harmony with the natural environment.

Runner up for Outstanding Rural Diversification Project was Mini Explorers Nursery based on Steph and Mark Pybus' 260 acre arable farm from near Leeming Bar.

Mrs Pybus wanted a nursery for her own six children that would offer the same carefree outdoor lifestyle they had at home. The nursery has grown from just five children and seven staff in 2012, to more than 115 children and 22 staff in 2017.

Mrs Pybus said: "To be recognised for our success is a wonderful endorsement of our team’s hard work and of how the rural community has welcomed our unique business."

Highly commended in the same category was Flowers from the Farm Ltd, a national not-for-profit network of cut flower growers.

Founded on a farm near York in 2011, members often grow flowers as a way of making income from a small piece of land. The group has revived the British flower industry. Judges said it was a "fantastic and unique business", helping others diversify.

Humble Bee Leisure – a working arable farm with sheep and cattle at Flixton, near Scarborough – was highly commended in the Rural Tourism Business category. It provides year-round glamping accommodation including wigwams, yurts, bell tents and three cottages with hot tubs.

The awards were founded by Leicestershire businesswomen Anna Price and Jemma Clifford and partnered by Amazon and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).