Awards recognise that Herriot Country never tasted so good

Darlington and Stockton Times: FINEST FLAVOURS: winners after the presentations at Thirsk Racecourse FINEST FLAVOURS: winners after the presentations at Thirsk Racecourse

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 last 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 the 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.

Mr Theakston stood down from an operational role earlier this year. The brewery is now run by his sons, Rob and Jo.

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

The pub, which received the most votes by phone, text and post, in the poll is run by Caroline and Scott Young.

Although they have only been there for 18 months and have built up an enviable reputation for food, they have to leave 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 are sponsored by the Herriot Country Attractions Group.

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, and Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, welcomed the 200 guests.

Mr Verity 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.”

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