FORGET Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and glittering Hollywood award ceremonies.

Another ‘Oscars’ battle is heating up and one of the finalists is a lot closer to home. Snoutwood Trotters at Laburnum Farm in Great Sankey has made it into the final of the Countryside Alliance Awards. Known as the ‘Rural Oscars’, Liam Tickle and Rebecca Scott, who run the pork farm, are one of just four finalists in the food and drink category for the north.

The couple started out with two Gloucester Old Spot pigs, Salt and Pepper, in 2009. Today they regularly produce their own litters of the rare breed pigs, which are outdoor reared.

Rebecca said: “We are both completely overwhelmed – it feels fantastic to have been nominated and recognised for what we do in Warrington.”

The couple will find out in mid February if they have won in their category and will be invited to an awards ceremony in London at the House of Lords in March.

Rebecca, a former St Gregory’s High School pupil, added: “To be a regional finalist is already an outstanding achievement for us both, but to go to the next level in the competition would be so rewarding. The awards exist to give rural businesses a voice and it would be a great way to put our area on the map. Many of the finalists are third, fourth and fifth generation farmers, so for us to be competing as first generation farmers from such urban backgrounds, learning from scratch, is unreal.”

Snoutwood Trotters, which had more than 40 nominations for the awards, went from being a hobby to a business quickly after Liam asked for ‘pigs’ for his 21st birthday present from Rebecca’s dad Walter.

Liam, a former Penketh High School student, added: “I enjoyed natural history and always enjoyed cooking, but at no point was farming a possibility until I met Bec. We had been watching a few TV shows including Jimmy’s Farm which inspired us to research the idea further. It looked like something we would thoroughly enjoy doing so off we rushed for two pigs.”

Liam was told that providing he fenced the land and built a suitable shelter he could keep the pigs in a spare bit of woodland that Walter owned for his horses.

Rebecca, 26, said: “I always knew that Liam was up for new challenges but I definitely didn’t expect him to suggest pigs as a 21st birthday present. I thought he was mad, but I am so glad he suggested it as now I cannot imagine life without them.”

Now the couple have between 70 and 100 pigs at any one time. They started selling pork from a tiny fridge in a gazebo at the front of the farm in 2011 but since then the business has grown significantly with a log cabin shop built in 2014. Sales are currently fortnightly.

Liam, 27, who balances his time between Snoutwood Trotters and full time work as a mobile engineer, said: “We used to have queues down the road when we were selling less meat, but as we have increased our herd we have coped with demand a lot better.

“It gives us an opportunity to have chats with our customers over a cup of tea, and offer them pig tours. It feels great to have support from our customer base who have pushed us to keep going.”

Rebecca added: “The best part of the job is waking up on a Sunday morning, putting on our wellies and spending a full day on the farm together. There’s no better feeling in the world.

“Having our 55 stone boar, Bruno, helps us to stand out. Selectively breeding our sows that now stretch back four generations on some of our lines, we have really pushed the breeding of our Gloucester Old Spots to become some of the best out there. To have achieved this in such a short space of time with no previous experience of pigs whatsoever is remarkable.”

DAVID Morgan