Cheese firms’ festive cheer for Chelsea Pensioners

Two Chelsea Pensioners show off Stilton cheese donated by Long Clawson Dairy as part of the veterans' annual celebration of British cheesemakers EMN-171220-114404001
Two Chelsea Pensioners show off Stilton cheese donated by Long Clawson Dairy as part of the veterans' annual celebration of British cheesemakers EMN-171220-114404001
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Chelsea Pensioners got into the festive spirit by tucking into slabs of cheese donated by three dairies from the Melton area.

The occasion was the veterans’ annual celebration of British cheesemakers.

Chelsea Pensioner Leo Tighe carries out the ceremonial cutting of the cheese at the annual celebration of UK cheesemakers EMN-171220-122258001

Chelsea Pensioner Leo Tighe carries out the ceremonial cutting of the cheese at the annual celebration of UK cheesemakers EMN-171220-122258001

Long Clawson Dairy gave them 8kg of Stilton.

Colston Bassett and District Dairy and Cropwell Bishop Creamery donated 15kg of Stilton and blue Stilton for the bash, which was held at Royal Hospital Chelsea.

The local contributions were part of a whopping 514lb worth given to the celebrations by UK cheesemakers.

This year, the ceremonial cheese was a giant 53lb of Montgomery Cheddar which was cut by In-Pensioner Leo Tighe, aged 74.

Before tucking into some delicious slices of Stilton, he said: “It is a great honour to take part in this wonderful ceremony, especially as it involves one of my favourite foods.

“I am extremely proud to be representing my fellow In-Pensioners at the Royal Hospital. We cannot thank the cheesemakers enough for their generous contributions.

“Every year we look forward to receiving this delicious Christmas gift, now it’s time to enjoy it.”

Leo is one of 300 Chelsea Pensioners who live in the hospital as former soldiers of the British army, moving in to the Grade 1 listed building a year ago.

Cheese is particularly celebrated because it has been a favourite among British troops serving on the front line for centuries.

Vintage era singers Verity and Violet helped the pensioners get in the festive spirit with renditions of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ and ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ at the event.

Ash Amirahmadi, chairman of The Dairy Council, said: “Cheesemakers across the UK have a great tradition of paying tribute to the courage and contribution made by our war veterans, and this year they certainly didn’t disappoint.

“Cheese is a food of the forces.

“It has been included in soldiers’ rations for centuries and that says it all – from its nutritional value to its much-loved taste, we have a great British product.”