A family-run firm has picked up a major title in the prestigious BBC Food and Farming Awards.
Doddington Dairy was named Best Food Producer, the first time a Northumberland company has won one of the annual national awards.
The prize was presented to Neill and Jackie Maxwell by one of the judges, Cyrus Todiwala, chef proprietor of Café Spice Namaste and celebrity television chef, at a ceremony in Bristol.
Jackie said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this incredible recognition on a national platform and from such esteemed judges who recognised the quality of the products we produce.
“It was a great honour to be told by the judges that the deciding factors were, that we are a hard-working farm, turning our produce into food, creating sustainable jobs and having a positive impact on the local economy in what is, a very rural location.
“Margaret Ann, Neill and myself would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us over the years – our customers, suppliers and of course our very hard-working and committed staff. All of these people, in addition to other family members, have been integral to this huge achievement and it certainly would not have been at all possible without everyone’s commitment and dedication.”
The Maxwells, who farm at Doddington, near Wooler, launched Doddington Cheese to add value to their milk 21 years ago. They were one of a very few companies in the UK producing hand-crafted, unpasteurised cheeses.
When they launched Doddington Dairy Ice Cream in 2000, they were the only farm-based ice cream producer between Aberdeenshire and York.
Currently employing in the region of 20 people in the dairy and on the farm, over the years the Maxwells have worked very hard to extend and develop their range of products.
The entire family is passionate about local provenance and use only natural ingredients. Both the cheeses and ice creams are still today made from their own milk, and where possible they support and work with local producers and brands synonymous with the region, including Chainbridge honey, Alnwick Rum, Newcastle Brown Ale and their own apples and rhubarb.
Sheila Dillon, founder of the Food and Farming Awards and presenter of Radio 4’s The Food Programme, said: “In the 15th year of these awards, we really wanted to find out from our listeners who the food heroes were in their neighbourhoods - anyone, any organisation that through food was making life in Britain better. We’ve certainly been rewarded with thousands of nominations – and we’ve had a tough job narrowing down our list of winners this year.”