TWO shops at the heart of their communities have been nominated for top awards after going the extra mile for their customers.

Nicknamed the Rural Oscars, the seventh annual Countryside Alliance Awards are now open to public nomination with the Blunsdon Village Shop and Bloomfield’s Fine Foods, in Highworth, both in the running.

The awards were created to support and promote rural communities and they celebrate people going the extra mile to ensure that rural Britain's food and farming industry, small business, traditional skills and forward thinking enterprises.

Swindon North MP Justin Tomlinson, who nominated the two shops, is urging the local community to go online and get nominating.

“These awards are an excellent way to promote the local businesses that work hard to keep rural Britain ticking and I am delighted to have nominated both the Blundson Village Shop and Bloomfield’s Fine Foods in Highworth in the awards,” he said.

“Both would be very worthy winners.

“The produce grown and made in and around Swindon is second to none and we have many community heroes and businesses worthy of national recognition. Please get involved and nominate today to put Swindon's rural businesses on the map.”

The shop in Blunsdon has been there for more than eight years after being set up by a group of volunteers in response to all of the other shops in the village closing.

It moved to a new building in 2009 and has become the hub of a thriving community.

It now has three paid staff who work in the shop along with handful of volunteers who are vital to the store staying open.

Maggie Fisher, who works in the shop, said: “The shop means an awful lot to people in the village.

“If the shop wasn’t here people would have to get a bus and it is a long way just to pick up some milk or bread.

“A lot of people do realise what goes into keeping this shop open and it is great in the morning when you get people gathering to have a chat and catch up in the shop.”

The awards run across five categories, local food, village shop/post office, enterprise, butcher and rural hero.

You can nominate both the shops online at