27 February 2019, 12:09 PM
  • The dairy industry said goodbye to one of its finest last month following the death of revered cheesemaker Mary Holbrook
Cheese industry salutes Mary Holbrook

Known to some as the godmother of British goat’s cheese, Mary started making cheese at Sleight Farm near Bath in the late 70s, creating Tymsboro, Sleightlett, Cardo and Old Ford.

“When I started working at Neal’s Yard in ‘91 she was already an enormous presence at the dairy; we had amazing cheeses from her,” David Lockwood, managing director of Neal’s Yard told Speciality Food.

“Whatever she did she did it well. She was adamant that she wasn’t going to compromise on the things she believed in. It wasn’t that she wasn’t commercial – she was – but she also had tremendous belief in her principles. She was absolutely going to make what she believed in, and recognised that it’s a lot easier to make a business add up when your cheese tastes amazing. In her work she was always observant and took care in what she did. Those qualities allowed her to make amazing cheese.”

Of the future of Sleight Farm, Catherine, Mary’s cousin, said, “The goats have been kidding for the last six or so weeks and, eight days after Mary’s passing, we started to milk the goats again for the first time since the autumn. We have now spent the last two weeks setting curd, making cheese and tending to the animals, just as Mary wanted. We plan to continue in this way, making Tymsboro’, Sleightlett, Cardo and Old Ford in just the same way, for the rest of this season.

“Mary had plans for the future of the farm after her death and her family are working together to see if this can be achieved. It is a very special place of high-quality pasture that has remained free of intensive farming. We hope to keep it that way.”

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