A dairy proudly owned by Welsh farmers has bought a slice of Christmas cheer to war veterans with a gift of top quality cheese, as they marked the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Expert cheesemakers South Caernarfon Creameries gave four kilos of their finest Cavern Aged Cheddar, Caerffili and Smoked Cheddar 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.
This year’s ceremony marked another important anniversary, with 2019 being the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, providing a reminder of the massive human sacrifice made by our nation’s veterans in the name of freedom.
Speaking at the ceremony, Dairy UK Chair Paul Vernon highlighted the unique and historic role of cheese within British society, with Cheshire cheese mentioned in the doomsday book; used from Roman times to feed marching armies; and the role ‘Government Cheese’ played in feeding the population throughout the war.
Alan Wyn Jones, award-winning managing director of South Caernarfon Creameries, said: “We’re very proud to have donated a selection of our fine cheeses to the Chelsea Pensioners again this year.
“The Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses is a truly wonderful tradition which encapsulates all that’s great about the festive period, and this year was particularly poignant marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
SCC makes Wales’ Dragon brand cheeses at Chwilog on the Llyn Peninsula and has 130 farming members across North and Mid Wales.
The co-operative’s Cavern Aged Cheddar is matured in a cave at Llechwedd Slate Caverns in Blaenau Ffestiniog, and the new Smoked Cheddar launched this year is smoked at Anglesey Sea Salt Company Halen Môn, on the banks of the Menai Strait.
Tribute was paid at the ceremony to the brave service men and women who fought and gave their lives in the UK’s conflicts since World War One.
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 this year carried out by Chelsea Pensioner Monica Parrott, marking another timely anniversary of ten years since the first female Chelsea Pensioner was admitted to the Royal Hospital.
Also taking part in the ceremony were Chelsea Pensioners David Godwin and Oswell Telford. David joined the Army in 1968 and went on to serve for three years with the Royal Corps of Transport and then for twenty years with in the Royal Military Police.
He saw service in UK, Northern Ireland and Cyprus and was discharged in 1991 having served for a total of twenty three years, and joining the Royal Hospital in July 2019.
Oswell joined the Army in 1958 and badged to the Coldstream Guards. He saw service in UK, Northern Ireland and Germany and was discharged in 1988 having served for thirty years and promoted to the rank of Sergeant, joining the Royal Hospital in November 2015.
Commenting, Monica said: “It’s a privilege to be asked to cut the cheese at this year’s ceremony. It is so kind that Dairy UK and all of the UK cheesemongers continue this tradition, and the Chelsea Pensioners will be sure to enjoy these incredible cheeses for as long as they last!”
Dairy UK Chair Paul Vernon added: “It’s an honour to be here at the Royal Hospital, celebrating the sixtieth year of the Cheese Ceremony. The generous donations from our cheesemakers given gladly are just a small token of the thanks we give to our brave veterans.”