A CHEESE company that was taken over by a brother and sister after the untimely death of their parents, has proved that life goes on by winning a major award.

The annual Flavours of Herriot Country food awards are designed to reward the contribution of dozens of cafes, restaurants and food producers in northern North Yorkshire.

Over the last nine years many of those involved in the top end of the food industry have been recognised with a coveted award sponsors of which include the Darlington & Stockton Times.

And at this year's ceremony, held at Thirsk Racecourse on Friday, one of the winners was the Swaledale Cheese Company, which won the Food Producer of the Year category.

The company was taken over by brother and sister Sam, 21 and Louise, 25, just ten months ago, after the tragic death of their mother.

Mandy Reed, 47, died in February this year in snow just feet from her home. She had been with her family celebrating her son's 21st birthday. An inquest found she had died of exposure.

Their father, David Reed, died in 2005, of a heart attack at the age of 45 but their children said it was utmost importance for them to carry on what their parents had started and were determined to continue the success of the 25 year old family business.

Louise Reed said: "It has only been 10 months and it is very emotional. If we have won this award, we must be doing something right."

The Outstanding Achievement Award was presented to Paul Theakston, chairman of the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham.

He took over the running of the family's Theakston's brewery at the age of 23, when his father died. When the company was taken over by a larger brewery, Mr Theakston set up the Black Sheep Brewery.

He kept the business as a small, traditional brewery but its beers are now known around the world. This year the brewery celebrated its 20th anniversary.

Unfortunately it's all change at the popular choice winner voted for by Darlington and Stockton Times readers, the Coore Arms, at Scruton, near Northallerton.

Caroline and Scott Young who have been running the pub for 18 months and built up an enviable reputation for food are leaving in the near future after the premises were sold but the good news is they are looking for another pub in the area.

BBC Radio York presenter Jules Bellerby returned to host the awards, which were split in to 13 categories.

Jim Wight and Rosie Page, son and daughter of the late Alf Wight gave their support for the second year running, recalling stories about their veterinary surgeon/writer father and giving heart-felt thanks to the entrants.

My father would have been absolutely thrilled to know that his name lived on and continued to be associated with good Yorkshire food and hospitality, said Mr Wight.

Rosie Page also spoke passionately about the Herriot Hospice Homecare charity of which she is a patron and a volunteer. Event attendees donated 1,000 to the charity.

James Sanderson, manager of Thirsk Racecourse, welcomed guests and Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said it was a "brilliant event" and talked about Le Bid to bring the Tour de France to Yorkshire in the next few years.

Mr Verity added: "The standard of entries was extremely high and this is a perfect example of the calibre of food we produce in our great county. From cheese to beer to foods inspired by international flavours Yorkshire has everything on the menu for visitors."

  • The awards used to be the Flavours of Hambleton, funded and organised by Hambleton District Council. Two years ago, public spending cutbacks led to the council pulling out. Since then the event has been renamed and is organised by a small team of volunteers.

Roll of honour

  • Breakfast of the Year  (sponsored by Sweet Moments, Northallerton) - Bliss Cafe and Patisserie, Thirsk
  • Tearoom of the Year (sponsored by Bread Actually, Bedale) - Roots Farm Shop and Cafe, East Rounton
  • Food Producer of the Year (sponsored by Absolutely Food PR & Marketing) - Swaledale Cheese Company, Richmond.
  • Village Shop of the Year (sponsored by Black Sheep Brewery) - Spring House Farm Shop, Leeming Bar
  • Specialist Retailer of the Year (sponsored by Aroma Restaurant, Northallerton) - Campbells of Leyburn
  • Foods of the World (sponsored by Yorebridge House, Wensleydale) - Saffron India, Leyburn
  • Independent Brewery of the Year (sponsored by Grand Central Railway) -Thornborough Cider, Ripon
  • Dining Pub of the Year (sponsored by Complete Yorkshire) - Durham Ox, Crayke
  • Independent Butcher of the Year (sponsored by Vale of Mowbray, Northallerton) - Cockburns, Bedale
  • Fish and Chip Shop of the Year  (sponsored by Barkers of Northallerton) - White Horse, Northallerton
  • Restaurant of the Year (sponsored by Nero Training) - Overton House, Reeth
  • Readers Choice Award (sponsored by the Darlington & Stockton Times) - The Coore Arms at Scruton, Northallerton
  • Outstanding Achievement Award (sponsored by Chapters Hotel and Restaurant) - Paul Theakston