A SOUTH Lakeland charity has won a national award for its work using agriculture to help mental health recovery.

Growing Well, based at Low Sizergh Farm near Kendal, was crowned British Enterprise Champion at the Countryside Alliance (CA) awards in the House of Lords.

The judging panel was chaired by CA Chief Executive Alice Barnard and included cook Clarissa Dickson Wright, Philip Johnston of the Daily Telegraph, Emma Penny of Farmers Guardian and Chris Dewbury of wellington manufacturer Hunter Boot.

In their winners’ comments, the panel said: “It is ingenious to use nature as a healer in this way.

“Community minded, enterprising, fully driven by a love of our countryside and rural heritage, Growing Well is a very worthy and inspiring winner.”Minister of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Richard Benyon presented the winning plaque to the Growing Well team.

Charity manager Beren Aldridge said: “The judges started talking about the winner and a couple of sentences I started thinking ‘It sounds like us’. By the time they said our name we were buzzing.

“It was really exciting to win. Awards like this help us boost our profile, and it lets people know we’re here.”

Growing Well promotes mental health recovery and well-being by encouraging people to get involved in its 10-acre organic growing and training farm. The charity also runs farm visits for school children.

Storth Village Shop and Post Office was nominated for the country’s Best Village Shop and Post Office and winning the North-West award, but it was won by Yarpole Community Shop in Leominster, Hertfordshire. The Storth store received their regional trophy at the awards, also known as the ‘Rural Oscars’.

The post office won their award as 44 people volunteered to run the shop, Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said: “The recognition of the spirit and hard work that those who run both the Storth Post Office and Growing Well have displayed, is a fantastic advert for the South Lakes and shows just how much we value our communities.

“With a little creativity and innovation these two organisations have proved to us that even in this tough time we can still get together to provide important services for the people who live here.”