A POPULAR Yorkshire sheep milk cheese will be reborn next week when the cheese and dairy section opens its doors at the Great Yorkshire Show.

Shepherds Purse, based near Thirsk, have had to rename their feta-style cheese for the third time and will unveil its new incarnation, Mrs Bell’s Salad Cheese, at the show on Tuesday.

The cheese was developed by the former chief cheese steward, Judy Bell, who set out on a mission to create quality dairy alternatives for cow’s milk allergy sufferers.

Known at the time as Yorkshire Feta, it was Mrs Bell’s very first cheese, launched in 1989 and going on to win international awards.

Following Mrs Bell’s death in March, her daughter Caroline Bell has stepped into the role as the show’s chief cheese steward.

Explaining the latest name change for the original cheese, she said: “Feta was awarded a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) by the European Commission in 2002, a decision which was unsuccessfully challenged by Denmark and Germany, and in 2008 we were forced to rename the cheese Yorkshire Fettle.”


Judy Bell with some of her then-named Yorkshire Feta cheese in 2005

Judy Bell with some of her then-named Yorkshire Feta cheese in 2005


Yorkshire Fettle went on to win international cheese awards and has been stocked in Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose and served in restaurants across the UK. Shepherds Purse led a successful “Save Our Sheep Milk” campaign in 2020, an initiative set out to protect their sheep milk collective throughout the pandemic, which had initially seen 20 out of 22 processors of sheep milk disappear.


Yorkshire Feta cheese will get its third name next week

Yorkshire Feta cheese will get its third name next week


However, the success of the campaign brought Fettle to the attention of the Association of Greek Producers, SEVGAP, who believed that the use of Fettle breached the protection afforded to Feta and demanded that Shepherds Purse cease using the name. Caroline said: “Obviously we disagree with SEVGAP’s position but we do not have the resources to take on the Greek dairy industry and will, once again, rename our famous product.

“The new name reflects its place in our hearts as part of mum’s legacy as it was the very first cheese she created back in the 1980s.

“It seemed fitting that we should unveil the new name at the Great Yorkshire Show where our family has been hugely involved in developing the cheese section for many years.”

The cheese classes will be judged on the Tuesday, with the awards presented on the Wednesday and the hugely popular cheese auction on the Thursday.

The Great Yorkshire Show has become a four-day event after a raft of changes were implemented at the 2021 show due to Covid 19 regulations.