Michael Smith, co-owner of The Venus Company, is celebrating having received the accolade of the ‘Outstanding Contribution Award’ at the prestigious Food & Drink Devon Awards, held on Monday 10th October. Chosen by the board of directors, the honour is awarded only to those who have demonstrated excellence in their field. This year Michael was presented the award for his eight years of voluntary service as chair of Food & Drink Devon.
The annual Awards celebrate Devon’s fabulous food and drink producers, hospitality and catering businesses and speciality retailers. Michael took over the voluntary role of chair in 2008, stepping down earlier this year. Throughout his eight years at the helm, he worked tirelessly to increase the county’s profile, as well as championing its producers and food and drink businesses.
Commenting on the award, Michael Smith says: “It is a real honour to have received the ‘Outstanding Contribution Award’. It was a privilege to have been chairman of Food & Drink Devon for so many years and to have seen it grow and develop. Devon has the best producers in the country and it was my pleasure to help promote them through Food & Drink Devon and to increase the county’s profile.” Michael continues: “I wish Food & Drink Devon the best for the future and count myself and The Venus Company very fortunate to be members and associated with such a fantastic organisation.”
Michael’s first involvement with Food & Drink Devon was over twelve years ago when it was the South Hams Food & Drink Association, a self-funding association working in partnership with South Hams District Council acting as a public showcase for local produce. Since Michael’s involvement as chair, the Association moved in a different direction with a new brand identity. In 2008, under Michael’s guidance, South Hams Food & Drink Association merged with The South Devon & Dartmoor Food Group to become the organisation we now know as Food & Drink Devon which has grown 300%, now having 250 members.
Barbara King, the new chair of Food & Drink Devon comments about the award: “The board of Food & Drink Devon is hugely proud to present this award to Michael Smith, for all his hard work and dedication over the past eight years to the organisation and also his 20 plus years of service to the Devon food, drink and hospitality sector.”
The Food & Drink Devon Awards’ ceremony took place at Deer Park Country House Hotel and was hosted by food and drink broadcaster and BBC Radio 2's Nigel Barden.
The Venus Company, which is co-owned by Michael Smith, Louisa Newman and Lee Porter, began life at Blackpool Sands and has kept beachgoers fed and watered with delicious food and drink for 21 years. They serve locally sourced, tasty food with minimum impact on the environment and an emphasis on sustainability. They have six sites across the West Country including Blackpool Sands, East Portlemouth, Bigbury on Sea, Tolcarne, Watergate Bay and their only inland café at The Shops at Dartington.
The Venus Company’s philosophy is best summed up by the phrase ‘Loving the Beach’. They even use it in their web address. They have twice won the Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development (in 2010 and 2005). One of only ten companies throughout the UK to have been awarded a sustainability honour in 2010 and one of only eight companies to have achieved the award in 2005.
Food & Drink Devon was founded with the aim of representing like-minded businesses dedicated to producing food and drink of the very highest quality. The Food & Drink Devon association is committed to continuously achieving its mission – to make ‘Love The Flavour’ a nationally recognised brand for outstanding sustainable food and drink.