EIGHT Dorset businesses have been handed a major trade boost after being shortlisted for an awards scheme which showcases the very best in British rural enterprise.

An internet provider, a tea manufacturer and an equine business trainer are just some of the Dorset firms honoured in the regional heats of this year’s Rural Business Awards (RBAs).

Now in their fourth year, the RBAs are the only UK-wide business awards specifically for the rural sector.

The eight shortlisted businesses are finalists in the Rural Business Awards Regional Finals and they will find out if they have won a top slot at an awards ceremony on Thursday, October 18 at Bath Racecourse.

The successful winners at the regional finals, from the 13 award categories, are put forward to the National Final, which takes place in February 2019.

Sponsored by Amazon, the scheme has been a huge success since it started with the first award ceremony held in 2015.

“Congratulations to all the shortlisted companies in the south west ahead of the regional finals of the 2018 Rural Business Awards,” said Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon.

“These local businesses have a real positive impact on the local and national economy, and are a true inspiration to others. We wish all the nominees the best of luck ahead of the regional finals on October 18.”

The shortlisted firms from Dorset feature in six of the award categories.

Blandford based Wessex Internet has been shortlisted for the Outstanding Rural Diversification Project, while North Dorset firms Rovers Kit & Kaboodle and From Dorset With Love are in contention for the Best Rural Retail Business.

Great British Biscotti Co, which is based in Christchurch, and Clipper Teas of Beaminster feature in the Best Rural Manufacturing Business category.

The Best Rural Tourism Business prize could go to Verwood's Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park and the shortlist for Best Rural Education or Training Business features Equine Business Association, which operates from Lytchett Matravers.

Clipper Teas is also shortlisted in the Best Rural Drink Business category alongside Wild Drink.

The co-founder of the RBAs Anna Price said: “Congratulations to all the shortlisted business from Dorset which have it made this far in our awards. We are so proud to be holding the RBAs for the fourth year as they continue to go from strength to strength.”