• Iona

Ribblesdale Cheese On Duty and Off Duty

My First Blog

Put to shame by my friend Kevin, I realise that I am a late adopter.  Kevin is one of the lucky ones who made it out of the country to the sunny climes of Thailand last week, despite the now infamous ash cloud.  I am so envious.  But not of the pretzelling.

So, welcome to the world of Ribblesdale Cheese both on duty and off duty.

2010 Business Catch Up

BRC – Still a Grade A and 3 Minor Non Conformances……phew……

I get very stressed from Jan to March each year as this is the time, in addition to all the other things,  to review our BRC material, (it’s a quality system about food safety,) make sure that our activities are documented in line with the requirements , review and update our HACCP and the wonderful Quality Management Manual (which I am determined will fit in one file – it will!

Just because we are a small business does not exclude us in any way from the requirements of the BRC, we are still expected to uphold every part of the standard.  It is hard work but we really do do the things we say we do, I make sure of that, especially having a systems background. 

On the one hand it provides us with a very rigorous quality framework which would stand up to any due diligence inspection but on the other, it can get out of hand with paperwork and forms to complete.  C’est la vie, a necessary evil, better to have, I think, than not.

It was actually easier last year when I had to completely rewrite it as the Standard changed than to review and identify little things that had changed this year and ensure all sections of the manual reflect those changes.  Bummer.  But the good news is that we maintained our Grade A status and received three minor non conformances – one more than last year but then the scope of our activities has increased, so quite a relief, really.  We had the ever hirsute Philip Knight of Knight International again – recommend him – he is thorough but fair and he bought us lunch!  Can’t be bad.

Speaking at the Annual Yorkshire Business Link Conference

The evening of the audit, which near sucked the life out of me, I drove to Bradford, was put up in a very swish hotel in anticipation of my guest speech at the annual Yorkshire Business Link bash.  I was invited by Kate McIntyre, the new Ops Director at Business Link Yorkshire to speak about our business and how Business Link have helped us – hugely, as it happens….thank you, you know who you are!   Good luck, Kate in your new role.  (Kate, like me, is a Chartered Accountant.)

Two outrageously priced pints slipped down way too easily (haven’t had a pint of Bass for yonks) when I decided maybe better to practice my speech the following day.

The next day came all too quick.  I really enjoyed it, though those first few minutes are always nerve-wracking.  There were about 150 advisors present and it reminded me that I do enjoy public speaking (I used to do a bit in my previous existence) even though not that great at it; met a lot of interesting people who added to the experience .  My Business Link Advisor embarrassed me by saying a few very nice things about me and the business, thank you!  Hope I can go again next year to discuss what has changed.

A Lovely Bit of Press

Here is a link to a very nice article about us in the Northern Echo (with me looking like a veritable chipmunk – ignore that bit.)  A fuller version in the Darlington and Stockton Times.

Another tiny honourable mention…..


Brilliant!  Our Blue Cow cheese is ready and we have sold all of the first batch, which is fab but a bit worrying as we may run out!  Got some great feedback, a big thank you to our customers for their encouragement and feedback. 

Blue Goat cheese ready in another week or so.  It is always scary making a new cheese which needs a few months to mature before you know if it is ok or if you need to tweak the recipe.  So far, so good……we’ll see.

All Change – New Staff

I shouldn’t really leave this til last, as people are our most important asset.  We have lost a member of staff and gained two new people: the lovely Lydia who is running the wholesale side of the business.  We are very naughty and tease poor Lydia bout her admirers – our Parcelforce man and two of our customer’s pick up men (sic) who asked her for her number!  She may be young, (she’ll kick me for that, and mentioning her admirers,) but she has a very mature head on her shoulders and is a damned hard worker.  I am very lucky to have her.

Then there is Stu who will be joining us in the middle of  June 2010 and Andy who is our part time demon waxer.

Hope that is a good enough catch up to start afresh.  Coming soon, a bit about Penny and Snouter…….

#Hawescheesemakers #IonaHill #RibblesdaleCheese

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