Zoologist brews up a winner

Tom Hick with some of his brews Tom Hick with a selection of his brews

Tom Hick, the man behind the Allendale Brewing Company in Northumberland, has been announced as the 2008 Young Rural Entrepreneur of the Year.

The award, organised by countryside insurance broker Lycetts and The Field magazine, was presented to Tom by a panel of judges last Thursday at a ceremony at the Tryon Gallery in central London.

After studying Zoology at Bangor, Tom decided to start on an MSc from Sunderland University's Brew-Lab while persuading his father to re-mortgage the family home to finance the conversion of a derelict building on the edge of Allendale in Northumberland into a fully equipped micro-brewery.

Tom said: "I was chuffed to be recognised as one of the five finalists for the award, and to win it is incredible. I love doing what I do, whether that is the brewing itself; experimenting with new recipes; serving at a beer fayre or giving tours of the brewery.

"The prize money from the award will allow us to buy more casks and a new fermenter to increase production. "I get married next year and our honeymoon will be the first real break away from the business, but we have a good team here to handle everything."

Helping the business to grow further at a time when pubs across the country are struggling, Tom has also been at the heart of the refurbishment of the Crown at Catton, the only pub in the village, which had been closed for nine years before opening again in July 2008.

Heather McGregor, Financial Times columnist and one of the judges, said: "Tom has shown great commitment in getting his business off the ground. Successful entrepreneurs must take risks and while re-mortgaging your own home would have been admirable, to persuade your father to re-mortgage his is remarkable. Tom's drive and passion at such a young age makes him a very deserving winner."

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