Slaidburn Central Stores and Post Office has won a rural ‘Oscar’ award from the Countryside Alliance for its role at the heart of the community – especially during last year’s lockdown.

The mother and daughter team who run the shop at the heart of Slaidburn became the hub of the local community as they coordinated a food parcel delivery operation which became a lifeline for vulnerable residents living in outlying areas.

Now in their 15th Year, The Countryside Alliance Awards, celebrate rural businesses that go the extra mile, who support their local economy and are the unsung heroes in every community. This year’s awards attracted a record-breaking 18,000 nominations across the UK.

One of just four regional winners from across the Northwest, the judges said of the shop: "Clare and Megan go out of their way to support residents in this remote village shop by offering great produce and a friendly smile. The village simply would not thrive without them."

Mum and daughter team Megan and Clare Hardcastle took over the shop in 2018 and have invested time and money in extending the shop’s offering to meet the needs of the community.

They were starting to build the business by stocking a wider range of local produce and catering to both residents and tourists when the pandemic arrived.

“Our first instinct when the lockdown was announced was: how can we help? The second was: How are we going to cope?!” said Clare. “Within a few days, we were sending parcels out all over the Hodder Valley.

“We were struggling to keep up with demand and we were almost totally reliant on volunteers to do the deliveries while we took the orders, sourced produce and packed the parcels so the volunteer drivers could collect and distribute them.

“We started to stock locally produced sausages, lamb, beef and eggs and our pie supplier – Clayton Park – started baking bread and cakes for us. Walkers Fruit & Veg stall on Clitheroe market provided us with fresh produce and I even managed to get one of the big Lancashire cheese manufacturers to deal direct with us.

“As the lockdown eased off and the weather improved, the socially distanced queue that formed every morning outside the shop and down the street became a real community hub, where people could get that little bit of social contact to keep them going.

“I think the new local supply lines that we established during lockdown are here to stay. As long as the demand is there, we will continue to stock items from local producers as that was always part of the plan since we took over back in 2018.”

At the heart of the community: Grace, Megan and Clare on the steps at Slaidburn Central Stores.


The Forest of Bowland is a long way off the beaten track, but Ordnance Survey cartographers have identified it as the centre point of Great Britain.


Discover specialist independent food retailers, thriving markets and artisan producers on a foodie foray through this mouth-watering corner of England


There’s lots you can cram into a day trip to the Forest of Bowland, but making a weekend of it opens up all sorts of exciting options.

Latest News

Meet the mythical Bowland Hare in Gisburn Forest this Halloween

21 Oct 2021

There’s a treat in store for lovers of landscape, art and folklore this Halloween at a unique event in the spooky surroundings of Gisburn Forest. Sculptor...

Enjoy a really wild Halloween in the Forest of Bowland!

19 Oct 2021

They’re gearing up for an active outdoor Halloween this half term at Bowland Wild Boar Park. Spooky activities are taking place daily from Saturday October...

Bowland's award-winning gin featured in popular TV show

28 Jun 2021

Goosnargh Gin is heading into autumn with a range of exciting developments at the distillery – including being featured on TV. The multi-award winning gin...


On foot, by bike, by day or by night, the Forest of Bowland is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts just waiting to be explored.


We’ve created a collection of bespoke itineraries to help you make the most of your time in Bowland – choose from outdoor adventures, hidden gems and food & drink.


From country fairs to food festivals, the Forest of Bowland enjoy an extremely busy social calendar – and visitors are more than welcome to join in!

Champion Bowland

Champion Bowland helped fund the launch of this website, which in turn benefits sustainable tourism businesses across the Bowland AONB.  Champion Bowland provides easily accessible small grants for local projects which benefit the environment, local communities and visitors within the Forest of Bowland AONB. Champion Bowland raises...

 Downham launch 02 M Sutclif

Website Copy Mark Sutcliffe 
Website Design Barrie Tyrer

Champion Bowland logo 135  Forest of Bowland