THE Bath & West Society is celebrating the official opening of its new Rural Enterprise Centre next month with a special award.

The award will offer one regional food or drink producer at the start of their business journey the opportunity to spend time with Martin Thatcher at the home of Thatchers Cider at Myrtle Farm, Sandford.

The award recipient will receive unique insight into how Thatchers Cider has developed and what has led to its recent growth, direct from Martin - the fourth generation of his family to head the company.

Rupert Cox, CEO of the Bath & West, said: “Somerset and the surrounding counties are known for their exceptional food and drink credentials and we want to encourage and support emerging businesses within the sector. Through the Rural Enterprise Centre, we will offer micro food and drink businesses from across the region the facilities, contacts and advice they need to expand and grow."

Martin Thatcher added: “Throughout my time in business I’ve been lucky enough to receive valuable support and advice – and quite often it’s the little things that count the most.

“The Bath & West Society’s Rural Enterprise Centre will be a resource that is valued by many people. When Rupert approached me to ask if Thatchers would be willing to partner with them to create this award I immediately agreed. I am a firm supporter of providing skills training, and if we are able to help a start-up in the food and drink business who has already shown a determination to succeed, by sharing my knowledge, then I consider that to be a very worthwhile initiative.”

Work is well underway at the Rural Enterprise Centre, with the doors due to open in January 2018. The Society’s former office building at the Bath and West Showground is currently undergoing a £520k refurbishment, transforming it into a cutting edge Rural Enterprise Centre - set to become the hub of rural enterprise across Somerset and the South West of England, encouraging knowledge sharing, education and business growth amongst the rural community.