Gloucester Services, M5 Northbound – a rare breed of motorway services dedicated to local food, farming and local community – has won the prestigious Observer Food Monthly “Best Newcomer” award.
Sarah Dunning, CEO of the Westmorland Family, who own and operate the services, collected the award at a star studded ceremony in London on Thursday 16 October, attended by celeb foodies Nigella Lawson and Nigel Slater.
Gloucester Services, which opened in May 2014, is an innovative food business with a unique approach to running motorway services, offering locally sourced, seasonal food and produce.
Uniquely, there are no fast food chains or franchises on the forecourt. Instead, a farm shop selling locally produced food, a butchery featuring Gloucestershire’s finest meat and a café serving homemade dishes produced fresh daily using locally sourced ingredients.
Gloucester Services, which is the sister project of the acclaimed Tebay Services based in Cumbria, works with 200 producers from across the South West, 130 of which are within 30 miles of the site.
It has been created in partnership with the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust, a social regeneration charity. Once completed (a second, southbound service area opens in 2015), the £40 million project will employ 300 people in the local area and will redistribute an estimated £10 million over 20 years back into local Gloucestershire charitable community projects.
Renowned food writer Charles Campion says; “It used to be that when you pulled up at a motorway services the first thing on the list was finding a toilet (incidentally Gloucester Services toilets are splendid, spacious and fresh). Your visit was what marketeers refer to as a distress purchase. If you wanted to eat, it was some chips or a cake from the coffee shop. Gloucester Services sets a new agenda – you might scoff a traditional pie or some of the excellent homemade cake. And then you can wander through to the butcher and buy the Sunday joint, or a sourdough loaf, or a cake from Beau’s Bakery. The mantra used to be that to succeed in business you had to exceed your customer’s expectations; Gloucester Services manages that trick on every level”.
Sarah Dunning, CEO of the Westmorland Family, who own and operate the services says, “We’re really thrilled to win this award. Local food shouldn’t be considered the preserve of a handful of high end shops, it is at the heart of everything we make and eat. We want to give a sense of place to the traveller—to be able to buy and taste products from the surrounding region. Our greatest opportunity is to be able to bring these local products and producers to a much wider audience, and this award will bring us to a wider audience.