A young farmer from Hertfordshire who transformed a disused barn into a thriving business has been won an Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Victoria Smith, from St Albans YFC, was revealed as the winner at an online awards ceremony on 15 September. Supported by NatWest, the award was made by the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs.
The youngster launched her business during lockdown last year after converting a disused barn on her fiance’s farm into a takeaway to sell takeaway hot drinks, homemade cakes and other local produce.
She used funding and support from the Henry Plumb Foundation – and spent weekends and evenings making her idea a reality – all while working in a full-time job.
Although the business started with a takeaway option, Victoria has now grown it to offer seating and the product range has expanded to include local ice creams, oils and honey.
As well as employing local people, plans to expand the business with longer opening hours, sales of her fiancé’s home-reared meat and selling locally produced gifts for Christmas.
Victoria said: “I am absolutely thrilled to win this award, something that I couldn’t have imagined possible this time last year, when my idea really was just an idea.
“West End Barns is proof that if you are determined enough and are prepared to work hard, anything is possible, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the business.”
Victoria’s approach to business planning, research and funding impressed all four judges. NatWest agriculture director Roddy McLean said: “All five of the finalists achieved impressive results during the uncertainty of the pandemic but Victoria Smith’s business really stood out.
“Victoria had a vision and executed it in the right way – she did research, sought funding and has plans for growth. She already has a profitable business and I am excited to see where Victoria takes West End Barns next.”
To read about a well-established farming company, read about Tompsett Growers.