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Greetings from the Yorkshire Dales. This past fortnight, we have joined the rest of the country in mourning our late Monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. By the same token, we have welcomed King Charles III to the throne.
It will fall to much better writers and more well-informed commentators than me to reflect on her Majesty's remarkable life and character, as well as her contributions to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.
Indeed, I was apprehensive as to whether it was appropriate for me to use my update this month to comment on this solemn event. I was persuaded otherwise by the sentiments among colleagues and business partners in and around our little city of Ripon.
The strength of feeling in these parts, I am sure, partly relates to the ancientness of Ripon itself. People here are very aware of the historical moments of the past and how they shaped our landscapes, communities, and traditions. More often than not, these events directly involved the Kings and Queens of England.
Up the road in Middleham, the banner of Richard III is still flown by his loyal supporters in Wensleydale. Henry VIII laid ruin to the close by monasteries of Fountains and Rievaulx, while his daughter Elizabeth imprisoned her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, at Bolton Castle. It was James I who gave Ripon its Royal Charter in 1604. A generation later, the cathedral's windows were smashed in by the marauding Roundheads that were battling James's son, Charles I.
In more recent times, the role of the Royals has been rather more reserved, and yet, locally very important. The House of Windsor has played a leading role in championing our area, its people, and our past. In 2004, the Queen visited to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Treaty of Ripon; two years prior to that, the then Prince of Wales was made a freeman of the City of Ripon for his active role in supporting local regeneration efforts. These events will similarly live long in local memory.
At Farmison & Co, we are in large part comprised of chefs and butchers. I myself am a restaurateur by background. A common theme I have detected this past fortnight is a powerful respect for the service of her Majesty from those who are used to long, vigorous hours in the pursuit of excellence and service.
The Royal Family are tireless promoters of British business - and British food. Our Executive Development Chef, Jeff Baker, has cooked for the Queen, the King and indeed other members of our Royal family. Jeff said of the occasion,
"in my time of cooking for the royal family what is very apparent is their deep love of our great British bounty…"
Among the farming community, I think you would be hard-pressed to find someone who doubts the sincerity of the Royal support for farmers. The Queen was a Patron of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society for many decades, and attended the Yorkshire show several times over the years, as well as numerous other shows across the country.
In a sector of the economy that is painfully vulnerable to the chop and change of policies, support like this isn't just appreciated at the time, it's remembered for a long time.
As Prince of Wales, and somewhat less restricted by constitutional conventions, our King has also been a tireless supporter of our farmers. I've witnessed this support first-hand myself at the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association. Among the clanging gates and shouts of the auction near Kendall, the then Prince of Wales met with farmers and discussed the business of sheep farming, and to lend publicity to the attainment of Protected Designation of Origin for Herdwick lamb. In a similar vein, the King's Mutton Renaissance Campaign aimed to bolster sheep farmer's livelihoods through the revival of this underappreciated meat. These examples amount to real efforts to try and change things for the better.
Charles' new duties as King may well preclude him from being as overt in his support to these causes, but I am sure we can be confident of his continued interest in the revival of our heritage breeds.
As always, if you have any comments, please do contact me on [email protected]. I always take time to read your feedback.
Founder & CEO of Farmison & Co