Winners of the Sussex Food & Drink Awards 2013/14 were announced at a spectacular awards ceremony last night [Thursday 30th January) at the Amex Stadium in Brighton, but awards patron Sally Gunnell OBE DL and Danny Pike of BBC Sussex, who were hosting the evening, were stopped in their tracks when a proposal of marriage raised the roof!

This year’s winner of Sussex Farmer of the Year, Charlie Hughes, ended his emotional winning speech with a surprise proposal of marriage to his girlfriend Sarah Butler and as he got down on one knee, the cheers filled the entire stadium with her acceptance making it a night they would never forget.

The evening was a sell out, with over 350 leaders in the food, drink and farming industry gathering for what is now dubbed ‘the Sussex foodie event of the year’.  Guests were treated to a wonderful ‘Sussex bubbly reception’, followed by a stunning seven-course banquet created by new stadium caterers, Sodexo Prestige, using the best local ingredients.


Former Sussex Young Chef of the Year and recently crowned MasterChef Professional Champion, Steven Edwards, attended the awards ceremony and was hugely supportive of the awards when he was interviewed on stage saying, “The Sussex Young Chef of the Year is one of the best categories in these awards and the physical challenge that all the chefs have to face in the cook off is very similar to my experiences on MasterChef.”
Steven also helped to pick the winning ticket for the prize draw with the Wallace & Gromit Children’s Charity, raising £2,400 for Sussex’s only children’s hospice, Chestnut Tree House during the evening.
The Sussex Food & Drink Awards, now in their eighth year, are all about supporting and boosting local farmers, food and drink producers and the outlets which use and sell superb local fare.  Starting from small beginnings, the awards have grown to become prestigious and respected, with huge support from business in the county, bringing together the whole local food and farming community.
Said Sally Gunnell OBE DL, “This is my second year as patron for the Sussex Food & Drink Awards and just one look at the Grand Finalists list reassures me that these awards are just getting better and better!  I am thrilled to see a wonderful range of
small, young companies and larger, established
businesses coming forward to win these
awards. They are innovative, imaginative, sustainable and – very importantly – make us delicious food and drink to enjoy.”
Sussex Food & Drink Awards 2013/14 Winners:
Best Sussex Eating Experience, sponsored by Mayo Wynne Baxter Solicitors
Winner – Jeremy’s Restaurant, Balcombe, West Sussex
Runners up – The Crabtree, Lower Beeding, West Sussex and The Horse Guards Inn, Tillington, West Sussex
Sussex Farmer of the Year, sponsored by Spofforths Chartered Accountants
Winner – Charlie Hughes, Southview Farm Dairy, Pulborough, West Sussex
Runners up – David and Marian Harding, Court Lodge Farm, Hailsham, East Sussex and Tim and Charles Harrison, Harrisons Farm, Rudgwick, West Sussex
Sussex Food Producer of the Year, sponsored by The Southern Co-operative
Winner – Goodwood Home Farm, Chichester, West Sussex
Runners up – Kate’s Cookhouse, Steyning, West Sussex and Montezuma’s, Birdham, West Sussex
Sussex Farmers Market of the Year, sponsored by Harveys
Winner – Horsham Local Produce Market, West Sussex
Runners up – Lewes, East Sussex and Steyning, West Sussex
Sussex Drink Producer of the Year, sponsored by Sussex Food & Drink Network
Winner – Hepworth and Co Brewers, Horsham, West Sussex
Runners up – Plumpton College, Plumpton, East Sussex and Wobblegate, Bolney, West Sussex
Best Sussex Food/Farm Shop, sponsored by Natural PR and Cheese Please
Winner – Veasey and Sons Fishmonger, Forest Row, East Sussex
Runners up – Sharnfold Farm Shop, Hailsham, East Sussex and Rushfields Farm Shop, Poynings, West Sussex
Sussex Butcher of the Year, sponsored by Natural Farms
Winner – Archers of Westfield, Hastings, East Sussex
Runners up – J Heath and Son, Eastbourne, East Sussex and John Murray Butchers, Loxwood, West Sussex
Sussex Young Chef of the Year, sponsored by Sodexo Prestige
Winner – Nick Bennet, The Curlew Restaurant, Bodium, East Sussex
Runners up – Joseph Otway, The Ginger Pig, Hove, East Sussex and Ricki Weston, South Lodge Hotel, Lower Beeding, West Sussex
The awards scheme is run by Natural Partnerships Community Interest Company (CIC), co-directed by Hilary Knight of the Sussex Food & Drink Network and Paula Seager, Managing Director of Natural PR Ltd, with support from a loyal and high ranking group of sponsor judges.
Said Paula Seager, “We are proud of the Sussex Food & Drink Awards and want to wish our winners, grand finalists and finalists this year our warmest congratulations. We would also like to thank our patron Sally Gunnell OBE DL and our sponsors, judges and media partners, who all share a vital role in making these awards a success.”
For more information visit www.sussexfoodawards.biz
 For media enquiries call Isabel Gander on 01273 857242, mobile 07879 424400 or email isabel@naturalpr.biz