A dairy farmers’ co-operative has been spreading Christmas cheer to war veterans as part of a tradition stretching back more than 300 years.
Cheesemakers from South Caernarfon Creameries (SCC) have donated their finest Caerphilly, Cheddar, Halen Mȏn and Welsh red cheeses to the Chelsea Pensioners.
The annual Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses dates back to the opening of the Royal Hospital in 1692 when acclaimed architect Sir Christopher Wren, who designed St Paul’s Cathedral, asked local cheesemongers to provide the pensioners with cheese as a Yule Tide treat.
Historically, cheddar has played an important role in providing important nutrients to soldiers and the tradition was revived in 1959 and has been and celebrated ever since, with SCC among the cheesemakers contributing some of the UKs finest cheese.
Alan Wyn Jones, the managing director of SCC, based in Chwilog, near Pwllheli, said: “We were delighted to once again have the opportunity to donate a selection of our fine cheeses to the Chelsea Pensioners. .
“The Ceremony of the Christmas Cheese is a fantastic tradition that encapsulates the spirit of giving during the festive period and is a practical and tasty way of thanking the former servicemen and women for their service to the country. Long may it continue.
The traditional cutting of the ceremonial cheese was carried out this year by Chelsea Pensioner Michael Allen who joined the Army, aged 15, as a Boy Apprentice in 1957.
An adult, he then served in Kenya and France before joining the Far East Land Force in Borneo.
He spent the remainder of his service alternating between Northern Ireland and Germany and he was eventually discharged in 1982 having served for 24 years and after being promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Michael then joined the Royal Hospital Chelsea in 2007.
Also taking part in the ceremony were Chelsea Pensioners Ted Fell and Roy Palmer.
Entertaining guests this year were Strictly Come Dancing stars Erin Boag and Ian Waite who danced a waltz and foxtrot..
Dairy UK chair Ash Amirahmadi said “As an industry we take very seriously our responsibility as one of the food sectors that helps to feed this nation.
“We know that people rely on us and although this year hasn’t been easy for the sector, we have all worked hard to make sure there have been great tasting nutritious and increasingly sustainable dairy foods on supermarket shelves.
“It’s an honour for us to be able to share many of our finest British cheeses with the men and women of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea today.”