A SMALLHOLDER who helped bring life back to Herefordshire after foot-and-mouth wrought havoc in the county, has been rewarded at a glittering ceremony.

Clare Wichbold "felt like an Oscar winner" after collecting the coveted local government trophy in the Public Servants of the Year awards.

Clare was one of 15 finalists at the ceremony at London's Inter-Continental Hotel. She received the award from TV news anchorman Dermot Murnaghan and his colleague, Mary Nightingale.

Using her first-hand experience, Clare pulled together a vast array or organisations and, along with her team, collected more than £1m of grants to help the county recover from the disaster.

"I was up against people who were dedicated and determined to make a positive difference within local government, so I was surprised to have won," said Clare, who has a flock of sheep and two pigs at her smallholding at Longtown.

"I received the trophy on behalf of my team and all the organisations I have worked with."

Clare, who works for the Herefordshire Partnership as a regeneration officer, has been central to a strategy which has levered more than £1m to help the county.

She has launched Hereford Festival of Walks to encourage people back into the countryside and made sure that rural shows take place this summer.

"We've managed to get money to help B&Bs with their classification," said Clare. "Some of them couldn't even afford that, they were so badly hit during the crisis.

"We've been looking at short, medium and long-term projects to help rural businesses get back on their feet."

Elwyn Maddy, the former chairman of Herefordshire NFU, who was at the helm during last year's crisis, said he was delighted that Clare had won the award.

"The county should be thankful for all the work she has done," he said.