Rural Business Awards Regional Winner

Over the years we have been nominated on several occasions for various Awards but have always been the runners up, not winners.

Winning the Regional Rural Business Awards

This year we decided that we would have another go with the rural business awards. We came runners up in our category in 2018/19 but if nothing else we never give up so thought ‘what the heck – lets try again’. Once again we made it as a regional finalist in our category ‘Best Rural Social Enterprise, Charity or Community Project (South West)’.

The problem is we are not very good at shouting about what we do… which is to provide opportunities for children, young people and adults including those at risk of exclusion; and local people & communities living in rural isolation without easy access to education, employment or training.

We share a little bit on social media, we publish blogs regularly on our website – but that really is about it.

So on entering the Rural Business Awards one of the questions asked is ‘Give us a summary of your organisation/project?’ The problem is its very difficult to describe Running Deer in a summary. We have delivered so many different projects from horticulture to rural skills to working with former forces… not to mention our intervention services for schools and Running Deer School itself.

Running Deer started in 2011 with a Grant from Awards for All to provide bushcraft days for families with children with special needs. From there we received a grant from The Princes Countryside Fund for a 2 year rural skills project supporting people living in rural isolation, long term unemployed and NEETS (not in education, employment or training). At the same time we started working with schools providing an intervention service and ran our horticulture project funded by the Claire Milne Trust.

Following that our Courses for Forces project funded by the MOD, and our day respite services to parents and carers of children with special needs… if nothing else we are diverse in what we offer!

As a user led organisation we go where we are needed and in 2016 we registered Running Deer School with the Department for Education. Thus began a new journey fraught with bureaucracy, rules, regulations and standards. Our first OFSTED report was pretty depressing. But we were not daunted (well we were but we don’t give up!)and we worked very hard to meet the standards for OFSTED which was achieved in June 2018.

In June 2019 we were awarded a Good Provider status by OFSTED. Quite an achievement for a little community led organisation in the woods. We are very very proud of where we are now.

So, back to the Rural Business Awards 2019/20.

On a very wet and windy day in October we made our way up to Cirencester to attend the regional finalists awards. We knew we were up against some strong finalists and were pretty sure we would be runners up again. To be honest we nearly didn’t go at all!

But we did, and I am so glad because we won our category! Our first ever Win!!!

And then… we won another category – one that finalists didn’t know about which was the ‘Triumph over Adversity Award’ recognising the journey that we have been on over the last 8 years.

Winning two Awards is so fantastic. We were surprised and are very proud. It feels great to be finally recognised for the work that we have done, and continue to do.

The National Finals are in Manchester in February – and we will be there again with fingers and toes crossed… because you never know… we might actually win!

Jo

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