Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
10:17 AM 2nd November 2020

The Courtyard Dairy Wins A Prestigious Golden Fork For Contribution To Fine Food

As Great Taste, the world’s most trusted food and drink awards, reached its grand finale for 2020, the Guild of Fine Food presented its annual Contribution to Fine Food award to Andy and Kathy Swinscoe from The Courtyard Dairy, on the A65 near Settle, North Yorkshire.

Having been champions of British artisan cheese since they first opened the doors of The Courtyard Dairy in 2012, Andy and Kathy have been awarded this year’s Contribution to Fine Food trophy in recognition of their outstanding work during lockdown. They went above and beyond to support the cheese-making community following the unprecedented challenges caused by COVID-19.

A dramatic collapse of the farmhouse cheese industry’s major supply chain, as the closure of pubs, restaurants and hotels saw many producers losing the majority of their business overnight, meant that it looked like many farm cheese-makers would struggle to survive. Andy and Kathy quickly altered their business in days and teamed up with other cheesemongers and makers nationally, to promote the plight of some of Britain’s best cheeses.

They converted their café and cheese museum into extra packing space in order to fulfil the online orders that would keep cheese-makers in business, redeploying their twelve staff to accommodate the sudden shift. Innovations included a wooden vending shack in the carpark, dispensing hot coffee to those queueing, cheese to those who wanted to collect purchases with a contactless system, and the installation of a van selling toasties and raclettes, which could be eaten in standalone ski gondola lifts.

Andy and Kathy Swinscoe with their award
Andy and Kathy Swinscoe with their award
Providing a vital route to market for cheese-makers and those in the food and drink world more widely, The Courtyard Dairy kept makers in business, animals in the fields, and tons of artisan cheese from being wasted.

The Contribution to Fine Food award was presented to Andy and Kathy Swinscoe by Nigel Barden, on behalf of the Guild of Fine Food, during the virtual Great Taste Golden Fork award ceremony on Thursday 22 October.

He said that he, "saluted them for finding time to fly the flag for British cheese across social media and in the press, and contributing greatly to the survival of many of Britain’s most celebrated artisan cheeses.”

The Contribution to Fine Food award is decided by industry insiders and this year's winners were thrilled to receive it:

“I never thought that we’d receive a Golden Fork award,” said Andy, “and to receive the award for the Contribution to Fine Food is fantastic recognition from within the industry. It’s a very prestigious award, and for us to be ranked alongside the amazing past winners is a great honour”.

Kathy was just as surprised as Andy to be singled out:

“It is testament to the great cheese-makers, and our staff at The Courtyard Dairy who have been behind us every step of the way, that we have all been able to pull together to manage through this crisis and keep British farmhouse cheese alive. We’re delighted that The Courtyard Dairy has been singled out for acknowledgement in this way – the award will take pride of place in the shop”.