A Dorset-based social enterprise has been named as one of the finalists in the prestigious ‘Rural Oscars’.

Future Roots’ Rylands Farm in Sherborne has won the Rural Enterprise category in the regional Countryside Alliance Awards and will now go head to head with businesses across the country for the national title.

The public nomination-led awards, known as the Rural Oscars, are the organisation’s annual celebration of rural produce, skills, enterprise and heritage. Now in its 13th year, it has become the definitive rural business award to win.

Regional champions will head to the British finals which will be held at the House of Lords on Wednesday, April 25.

At Rylands Farm, Future Roots helps young people who face behavioural, social or emotional challenges and are struggling to find their way into mainstream education. It also hosts its Countrymen's Club at the farm which helps men aged 50 or older who are suffering with conditions such as Parkinson's or dementia, or who have become isolated or lonely.

People who attend are offered support through farming activities within a therapeutic environment.

Julie Plumley, a qualified social worker, founded Future Roots in 2006 after feeling that the people she was helping through troubled times would benefit from learning and development in a farm environment.

Julie said: “It’s really exciting. I'm proud of our organisation."

“We’re a small organisation but we do reach up to 100 young people and work with around 40 men. It’s great for it to be recognised that farming as social care can make a difference.

"We have 15 employees of all ages and skills from 25 right up to the age of 70, and we have lots of volunteers as well."

Judges said Future Roots provides an "outstanding therapeutic service" for adults and children.

"It is an extremely welcoming place and the owners provide very hands on service. The incredible impact working with animals in a therapeutic environment with dedicated and caring staff has on adults and young people alike is exhilarating to see," they said.

Countryside Alliance awards director Sarah Lee said: "This year’s regional winners are all truly exceptional.

"We have been overwhelmed by nominations this year. The secret to the Rural Oscars’ popularity is that they honour the people involved in these businesses and not just their produce or services. They exist to sing the praises of those who work hard to keep our communities and rural economy ticking, but don’t seek the spotlight.

"These awards provide a cause for celebration in a time of great uncertainty in the countryside. Our local produce is second to none and there are many community heroes and businesses worthy of national recognition."