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New Frome Show president has life-long cheese heritage

FROME Show has a new president – and appropriately in view of the show’s heritage he’s chairman of one of the country’s top cheesemakers, Wyke Farms. 

John Clothier, whose father, Tom, started the business, succeeds show stalwart and former chairman Phil Cary and will hold the title for two years.

John said, “This is a great honour, especially as it comes at one of the most exciting times in the show’s history. It’s one of the most important events of its kind in the region and, of course, with the cheese section in particular rapidly gaining an international reputation through the Global Cheese Awards it’s doubly exciting for me.”

Wyke Farms, based at Wyke Champflower, near Bruton, now exports a range of traditional English Cheddar cheeses to more than 110 countries worldwide as well as supplying most of the UK’s leading supermarket chains and a huge number of high street shops.

The company, which coincidentally can trace its origins back to 1861, the same year that Frome Show itself was launched, has been both a major sponsor of the show’s internationally recognised cheese section and a winner of a great many trophies and awards at the show over the years.

And its top cheese grader, Nigel Pooley, whose highly trained nose was recently insured for £5million, is a long time chairman of the show’s cheese committee.

John Clothier’s memories of the show aren’t entirely professional, however. Back in the late 40s, he went with his mum and dad to the show, then held at the old showground at Fromefield.  He was, he recalls, perhaps three or four years old and, like all children of that age, was easily bored.

His mum went to meet some friends, leaving him with dad Tom who was talking to a friend. Tom habitually wore long johns winter and summer and while he was sitting at his dad’s feet, young John proceeded to roll Tom’s trouser legs up to his knees. Dad hadn’t realised what was going on but when mum came to find them she was horrified to see her husband revealing his long john clad legs to the visiting public!

And his involvement with the company has an extra personal dimension. John was diagnosed as having high cholesterol levels so his son, Richard, set himself the task of creating an alternative, half fat version to add to the traditionally produced Cheddars which bear the company’s trade mark.

One thing that may surprise many people is that John has released a CD. A big fan of country music, he has recorded cover versions of 10 popular songs from the 1960s and 70s for an album entitled ‘Chasing the Rainbow’ which he has produced to raise money for Save the Children. Tracks include ‘Lying Eyes’, ‘Hello Mary Lou’ and ‘Tequila Sunrise’.

John said, “I thought that it would be a real challenge to produce an easy listening CD that people may want to buy in aid of Save the Children, and it certainly was. However, I enjoyed making it greatly.”

‘Chasing the Rainbow’ is available from the Wyke Farms shop in Wyke Champflower and online. It costs £3 and £1 from every sale goes to Save the Children.

Show secretary Brenda Scott said, “It’s great having John as president and we look forward to seeing him at the show which takes place at West Woodlands on Saturday 14th September.”



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