A SHOP near Alcester has been chosen as one of the best rural retailers in the Midlands and will now vie for a national title against winners from the rest of the UK.

Hillers Farm Shop came first in the Best Local Food Category as part of the Countryside Alliance's third annual Best Rural Retailers competition.

Run across 12 UK regions and four categories, the competition was devised as a way of celebrating local communities, skills and produce through the retailers who work so hard to keep rural life ticking.

In 2007, more than 2,500 nominations were received, all passionately in support of valued retailers, and the winners represent the very best of the Midlands.

Clare Rowson, regional director for the Midlands and leader of the local judging panel said: "This is an outstanding outfit that continues to grow and add more strings to its bow.

"One loyal customer has said it's possibly one of the best food shopping experiences you could have' and it's easy to see why.

"The best of our local produce is represented here, from Ragley game to Churchfields ice-cream, and the tea-shop and gift shop mean that a trip to Hillers is a lot more than simply a food shop.

"The warm welcome from the dedicated staff is also a major factor, and their dedication to supporting our farmers and growers is an inspiration."

The national final will be held at a House of Lords reception in February this year and all regional winners will be invited to attend and hear whether they have won.