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Winner of the Pride of Surrey Award 2017

PUBLISHED: 11:38 22 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:24 22 September 2017

The Pride of Surrey Award - Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards 2017

The Pride of Surrey Award - Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards 2017

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We announce our 2017 winner of the Pride of Surrey award at the Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards

Since the Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards started in 2013, there have been a small number of villages able to lay claim to being among Surrey’s most successful foodie communities. Among them, Ripley perhaps stands out as the most consistent; a claim backed up again this year by the sheer number of businesses from the village that have made it here tonight. There were more on our long lists too!

So Ripley as a village community has become something of a food and drink champion in its own right. That thought got this year’s judging panel wondering whether there might be a particular hero among their committees and innovators who has helped to nourish this ambition.

This year’s winner of our special Pride of Surrey award, which is the only award chosen solely by our judging panel, worked for celebrity foodie Prue Leith for 20 years as school principal and later food quality director. She moved to Ripley in 1996 and was a little disappointed to find few fresh local food offerings in the village.

Eventually, having persuaded four like-minded friends to join her committee - and Surrey County Council to commit to a small grant towards the scheme - Ripley Farmers’ Market launched in 2005 with nearly 40 stalls. The former Formula One world champion Damon Hill led the official opening.

More than a decade on and with Best Farmers’ Market at the 2014 Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards among its many accolades, they haven’t looked back.

Never set up for personal commercial gain, the farmers’ market has raised more than £70,000 towards the local community and charities.

Without the foresight and determination of this year’s Pride of Surrey winner, however, the market may have never come to fruition – and the ripples of that would have been felt across Surrey, as it continues to inspire event organisers and independent producers alike.

A huge congratulations to our Pride of Surrey 2017 winner : Sally Erhardt.

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