The sterling community work of a Leicestershire group office has seen it claim a coveted gong at a glitzy award ceremony.
Market Harborough group secretary Tom Shepherd and business partner Linzie Maycock, who run the NFU Mutual branch in the town, are celebrating after notching the rural business of the year award at the Rural Community Council’s flagship event.
The awards recognise the amazing work of businesses in Leicestershire and Rutland to help their communities thrive.
“We felt we fitted the rural business of the year category because of our focus on serving a particular community,” said Tom.
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“We use a lot of local suppliers for what we do, all the staff here are local and we provide a considerable amount of training for them and we look after the rural and farming community.
“We also like to get involved in things locally, like going to the agricultural show at Blaston, supporting the activities of the Fernie Hunt, and we ran one of the feed stations for the cycle sportif back in April with soup and sandwiches all day. It’s nice to do something for big local events.”
So the Harborough team put forward a compelling case for the judges to mull over, initially making it onto the shortlist of three – and their hard work eventually paid dividends.
“We were announced as winners, which was great. We were thrilled; we didn’t think we would win because the other two candidates were very strong,” said Tom.
The judges sung the praises of the firm in its award citation.
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Since taking on the business in 2013, Tom and Linzie have grown it to a £4.1 million company employing seven local members of staff,” the judges said.
“The business provides a personal face-to-face service offering insurance products, financial services and health and safety and risk management support to local farms and rural businesses.
“The business proactively engages in the local community including hosting a food and drink station at the Harborough Festival of Cycling.”
Tom said helping out in the community is rewarding for the Harborough office team.
“We don’t just want to be an insurance office in the town; we want to be part of the community in which we’re situated and to do that you have to take part in what’s going on around you,” he said.
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“The more you take part, the more you get out of it. It works from a business point of view but it also makes the job a little bit different.
“I see it as a privilege doing this job, that as part of your work as NFU group secretary you can get involved in the local community and local events – it’s something both Linzie and I really enjoy.”
And there are no plans to take the foot off the pedal following the stunning victory; 2019 is again set to be a busy year both in the office’s day-to-day work and their central role in the rural life of the Harborough area.