Wessex Internet recognised as rural enterprise of the year at the House of Lords

Wessex Internet has been heralded as the best Rural Enterprise in the UK at the Countryside Alliance Awards, held at the House of Lords in London 

The awards, now in their 17th year and commonly referred to as ‘the rural Oscars’, recognise businesses that go the extra mile within their communities and support the rural economy.

Wessex Internet was initially nominated anonymously by its customers and then – from thousands of nominees across the UK – the company topped a public vote in the southwest region and was selected as the overall national winner by a panel of judges.

Hector Gibson Fleming, CEO at Wessex Internet, said:

“I’m absolutely over the moon that we have been recognised as Rural Enterprise champion at the 2024 Countryside Alliance Awards. This is a huge testament to the history of the business, the hard work of all of our people, and because we have stayed true to our values since forming as a small company to help our neighbours to now serving rural communities across Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire and Hampshire.

“It was particularly heartening for the judges to recognise not only the impact we make directly on the rural economy as a growing company and local employer, but more widely that the ultrafast broadband we provide enables other rural businesses to thrive and allows people living in the countryside to enjoy a higher quality of life.

“Whether by enabling remote and hybrid working for professionals, keeping businesses connected to their customers, helping families to keep in touch with loved ones, or simply enabling people to enjoy the range of entertainment and essential services available online, we are determined to bridge the digital divide.”

During the ceremony, the organisers reflected that:

“Wessex Internet has developed out of the absolute need to be part of the digital world. They have fought tooth and nail to be an internet provider that meets the needs of rural communities where the larger providers have failed.”

Sarah Lee, Director of Policy at the Countryside Alliance, said:

“We are proud to be honouring these exceptional rural businesses, and the people behind them who are passionate about providing quality goods, services, and employment to rural communities and beyond. Running a business in a rural community isn’t easy, and it’s so important to celebrate the valued role these rural enterprises have in their communities.”

North Dorset businesses were well represented at the House of Lords, with Andrew Stevenson-Hamilton, the proprietor of the Child Okeford Village Shop, also in attendance to receive the Highly Commended National Award for Best Village Hall & Post Office, after topping the southwest region.

The shop, which is only three miles away from Wessex Internet’s headquarters in Shroton, is a great example of the rural circular economy: stocking products from local suppliers, employing local people, and providing an essential and popular service, including to Wessex Internet’s staff who have been regular customers while installing ultrafast broadband in the village.

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