Great Taste Awards help celebrate 25 years

SAY CHEESE: Sisters Kate and Caroline Bell in the Shepherd's Purse dairy.

SAY CHEESE: Sisters Kate and Caroline Bell in the Shepherd's Purse dairy.

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by

AN artisan cheesemaker is celebrating its 25th anniversary in true style – after winning another clutch of awards.

Shepherd’s Purse, based near Thirsk, has added to its trophy cabinet following major success at the Great Taste Awards.

The Great Taste Awards are seen as a benchmark for speciality food and drink and have been described as the Oscars of the food world.

This year more than 400 experts judged 10,000 food and drink products over 50 days, which saw the family-run cheese business take a number of prizes.

Two gold stars were given to Harrogate Blue, Blue Monday and Monks Folly, while Katy's White Lavender and Bluemin White also scooped a gold star apiece.

The accolades follow a number of other successes this year, including seven awards at the biggest awards in the sector, Nantwich International Cheese Awards in July, where Yorkshire Fettle, Mrs Bell’s Blue and Olde York were also recognised.

On top of that the British Cheese Awards in May saw Shepherds Purse walk away with gold for Harrogate Blue and Yorkshire Fettle.

Director Caroline Bell said: “This is a brilliant way to mark our 25th anniversary year. Recognition such as this reflects the consistent hard work and dedication of our team and the company over the years, so we’re thrilled to celebrate by winning so many great awards at some of the biggest events in the industry.

“As a family owned business, we still hand-craft our artisan cheeses on our farm to provide the best products possible and we strive to continue to be pioneers and perfectionists in the industry. Having such a successful awards season is testament to our high standards.”

Shepherd’s Purse was launched in 1989 after founder Judy Bell – Caroline’s mother – experimented with sheep’s milk as cow’s milk allergies were then on the rise.

It was an instant success and in 1996, after experimenting with cow’s milk, its Yorkshire Blue was selected for the Tesco Finest range. That same year the company also found itself in a battle over the name feta, which the Greeks wanted to protect, and ten years on it renamed their product Yorkshire Fettle.

At the 1999 Great Yorkshire Show the cheesemakers won a high-profile fan in the form of Prince Charles and one of their products was featured on the menu for Concorde.

The company now makes cheeses using sheep, cow and buffalo milk and its products are available in many independent cheese shops and delicatessens UK-wide as well as supermarkets.

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