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The countdown is on for the Rural Business Awards, taking place at the Monastery in Manchester on Thursday 27 February. Honouring the best in British countryside-based enterprise, the awards put the spotlight on rural businesses in a wide range of categories, including food and drink, tourism and best start-up. Fisher German is proud to be national sponsor of the Outstanding Rural Diversification Project and over the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at each of the regional winners who are hoping to scoop the national prize later this month.

First up is East regional winner Corkers Crisps, a gourmet crisp manufacturer hoping its rapid growth since being founded ten years ago will earn it a national award. Based near Ely, Corkers Crisps is up for two awards at the finals – Best Food and Drink, and the Fisher German-sponsored Outstanding Rural Diversification Project, which recognises farms that have gone above and beyond to offer something different.

Best friends Ross Taylor and Rob Garnham were inspired to set up Corkers Crisps in 2009 after eating some particularly bad crisps on a skiing holiday. Having grown high-quality Naturalo potatoes – which are perfect for frying - on their farm for many years, the pair thought this was something they could turn their hands to. They decided to test their product by sending homemade trial versions off to crisp manufacturers, who thought they were of excellent quality.

Caroline Bosworth, Head of Business Development at Corkers Crisps, said: “What started off as a bright idea on a ski trip has grown into a highly successful business which turns over around £10 million. The peaty soil of the Fens gives our potatoes a distinctive taste and crunch, making them perfect for crisps. We’re ever hopeful we can win the national award, but even if we don’t, we can’t wait to meet the fellow finalists and learn about all the great things they’re doing. We just feel very privileged to have been recognised – we’re only a tiny company in the middle of the Fens who loves doing what we do. To have that acknowledgement is fantastic.”

Corkers Crisps come in a wide variety of flavours – and even started making crisps out of vegetables like parsnip and beetroot in 2015. Their products can be found in major outlets such as Waitrose, online on Ocado, and on various modes of transport such as trains and Easyjet flights.

Rebecca Ruck Keene, Partner at Fisher German, praised Corkers Crisps for taking what it already had and turning it into something far greater. She said: “It’s amazing how a bowl of substandard crisps on a skiing holiday resulted in a brilliant example of farm diversification. Corkers already grew potatoes on their farm, but their idea about turning them into crisps has seen their business boom. We wish them all the best in the final.”

Follow us on Twitter @fishergerman to learn more about the Rural Business Awards and other finalists hoping to win the Outstanding Rural Diversification Project award this year.