SALLY Stringer, who owns Beckford Stores and post office in the vale village just south of Evesham, has been picked as one of 10 national Rural Heroes' to represent a decade of rural change and determination.

Sally is among the list of heroes selected from across Britain by the Countryside Alliance to tell their story and represent rural life as it is now.

Sally's commitment to local food, her community and rural life marks her out as a true hero, says the alliance, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this summer.

Sally has already been honoured by the group in its Best Rural Retailer competition and now her dedication has brought her hero status, too.

Sally set up the Bredon Hill food group to champion local produce, and she supports as many local producers as she can. She also supports her community by taking a full and active role in village life.

Countryside Alliance spokeswoman Jill Grieve said: "Many have commented that Sally is the lynch-pin of Beckford, and it is people like her who enable rural life to continue.

"The 10 Rural Heroes' have been picked because their experiences represent those of many, many others in similar roles over the last 10 years, whether in farming, country sports or running a rural business or service.

"Together, they paint an honest and truthful picture of rural Britain since the alliance was formed in 1997.

"Some of our heroes' stories are sad; some are positive, but there remains a feeling that rural life has survived Blair's decade despite the Government, not because of it. There is a feeling that rural issues were never high on the agenda in Cool Britannia', and that to a very urban Government the countryside was another country' to be used by people rather than lived in.

"In the end, we think that one thing shines through all of these stories - hope. However the last 10 years have treated them, they are all looking forward to the next decade, and Sally is a great example of someone who is fighting for the survival of rural communities."