Hill House Farm Recognised In Queen's Birthday Honours List
Hill House Farm’s Ian Jones has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s 2021 Birthday Honours List. The award is in recognition of services to the community, and in particular how Ian brought other local farmers, growers and producers together during those first few weeks of the pandemic, to deliver quality sustainable food and local produce to homes across the Surrey Hills and the surrounding area.
When the first lockdown was announced in March 2020 the Farm lost 95% of its customers overnight. The outlook was bleak, either close the business or act quickly to pivot the business model from a predominately wholesale and catering customer base to create a retail business. The Farm took a huge punt, flipped its model and also partnered with other like-minded small local businesses who share the Farm’s ethos and passion for sustainability.
From a standing start Hill House Farm were soon delivering over 150 fresh food and drink items, including the Farm’s Gloucester Old Spot pork, Southdown lamb and Belted Galloway Beef, to more than 250 homes across Surrey and Sussex each week. With no infrastructure in place, orders were initially placed by phone, email and text, but within a month the team at Hill House Farm had managed to launch a brand new transactional website, enabling customers to order online and streamline the process.
Of the service one regular customer Richard, said: “Hill House was offering bread and milk as well as meat and were prepared to take us on. Not only that, they promised to deliver the next day, and they did! Ian developed his business to supply retail customers and also to expand his range by teaming up with other local suppliers. What a welcome initiative that has proved to be. Their products are always really fresh, are of impeccable quality and they have never let us down. Just the reverse, they have always been willing to go the extra mile if needed.”
Hill House Farm is a very active member of Surrey Hills Enterprises, CEO Wendy Varcoe MBE said: “During the crisis, Ian went over and above what would be expected, adapting his business model and meeting local needs for food deliveries. He was a catalyst for bringing together other businesses and creating an efficient and highly responsive food and drink provider using local produce to support those unable to get out. His collaboration and support for other Surrey Hills businesses and for the local community has been exemplary.”
On receiving the award, Ian Jones of Hill House Farm said: “I am honoured, humbled and astounded in equal measure to be chosen for such a prestigious award. It might have my name on it, but this award is a tribute to my family and the whole team at Hill House Farm. The last 16 months have been extraordinarily challenging for our business and we wouldn’t have survived if it wasn’t for the hard work and commitment shown by everyone at the Farm and of course our wonderful customers, both old and new. It’s hugely rewarding working with such an incredible team and with other like-minded producers.
“I would like to take this opportunity to pay a special tribute to my parents Maureen and Gareth, both of whom should be enjoying a relaxing retirement. Their support for me and the Farm has been unwavering during this crisis and I couldn’t have done any of this without them.”