A dairy farmers’ cooperative has bought a slice of Christmas cheer to war veterans with a gift of top quality cheese.
Expert cheesemakers South Caernarfon Creameries gave three and a half kilos of their finest Cavern Aged Cheddar, Cheddar & Leek and Caerffili cheeses to the Chelsea Pensioners at the annual Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses.
It’s a centuries-old Yule Tide tradition where cheese is handed over to the country’s war veterans at the Royal Hospital in London.
It dates back to 1692 when the hospital asked a local cheesemonger to provide the pensioners with cheese as a Christmas treat.
Cheddar has played a historic role in providing important nutrients to soldiers.
Tribute was paid to the brave service men and women who fought and gave their lives in the UK’s conflicts since World War One because 2018 marks a centenary since the Armistice.
Alan Wyn Jones, award-winning managing director of South Caernarfon Creameries, said: “We’re very glad to have donated a selection of our fine cheeses to the Chelsea Pensioners.
“The Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses is a truly wonderful tradition, and it encapsulates all that’s great about the festive period.”
Internationally acclaimed singer, pianist and songwriter Joe Stilgoe helped spread festive cheer with a medley of Christmas classics at the ceremony.
The traditional cutting of the ceremonial cheese was carried out this year by Chelsea Pensioner Alan Goddard.
Ex Grenadier Guard Alan said: “I feel very pleased to have been chosen to cut the cheese at this year’s ceremony and to be a part of a Royal Hospital tradition that dates back to its opening in 1692. Thanks to the generosity of Dairy UK in continuing this tradition, my fellow Chelsea Pensioners and I can enjoy these delicious cheeses over the festive period!”
Chelsea Pensioner and ex Royal Engineer Michael Wickens: said: “I enjoyed playing my part in this year’s Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
“Even though the selection today was just a small part of this year’s donation to the Hospital, it was astounding to see the generosity of the cheese makers of Great Britain. Long may this tradition continue.”
Dairy UK Chair Paul Vernon also said: “There’s no better time than the annual Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses to honour our brave veterans as well as celebrate the great taste and nutrition of cheese, along with our excellent cheesemakers. It’s the perfect start to the Christmas season.”