Former headteacher Matthew Hill launches Lymington Cheese Store
FAMILY visits to Brittany inspired a former head teacher to embark upon a new career as an artisan cheese supplier.
Matthew Hill, who stepped down from his job at Milford Primary School four years ago, has now launched the Lymington Cheese Store, supplying curated boxes of the best British products to customers across the New Forest.
It was childhood memories of cheese tasting in Brittany that eventually prompted him to turn his life-long passion for cheese into a vocation, and he enrolled on a training programme run by the Academy of Cheese.
Matthew, who also worked as a supply teacher at South Baddesley and St Luke’s School in Sway, told the A&T: "My parents had a home in Brittany and my father was a huge cheese enthusiast. He had a book of French cheeses and we would try to find them in the supermarket and then write notes in the book about them. This got me really interested in cheese and how it’s produced."
It was during his training that he learnt more about the process of cheese tasting, artisan cheese production methods and cheese pairing.
"A lot of the syllabus focused on British cheeses – there has been a real renaissance of British cheeses," he explained.
"There are hundreds of new cheeses and producers, and they tend to be making artisan farmhouse cheeses which are handmade, using milk from their own herds of cows, so they know the prominence of their product.
"These small producers are making some really fantastic new products; I really feel like the cheese being produced in this country is among the best the world."
Working with producers across the south of England, Matthew has developed artisan cheese boxes showcasing a range of some of the very best products. He currently stocks 12 cheeses but plans to expand this range based on customer feedback.
"What people don’t tend to understand is you can go and buy a piece of Cathedral City cheddar from the supermarket for £3, but that will be made from milk sources all around the country or even across Europe," he continued. "The milk comes in, they press a button and it come out in blocks – it’s a nice product and it’s a good price but the cheese I’m selling is a very different proposition really – it’s all small scale, small batch, individual farmers putting their lives into it."
The current range includes Tunworth and Winslade produced by Stacey Hedges of the Hampshire Cheese Company based in Herriard near Basingstoke, Old Winchester made by Mike Smales at Lyburne, and Ash Button produced at Landford by Rosary Goats Cheese.
"The more I learnt, the more I thought about putting together some boxes of the cheese that I really liked and selling them as a selection," he said.
"A lot of people find going to a deli or a specialist cheese store a bit overwhelming because they don’t really know how much it will cost, or if the cheese will be any good, or even how much to ask for. So I thought that by creating boxes I could make it really easy for people to have an amazing selection of great British cheeses. All they need to do is unpack it and they are ready to go."
A best-selling product is the local hero box which features four cheeses all sourced within close proximity of the New Forest, available in a medium size box for £20 or a larger box for £25.
All cheeses are hand cut and wrapped in wax paper, with tasting notes and wine and beer pairing ideas included in the package. Delivery is free on orders over £20 for those living in the BH25, SO41 and SO42 postcodes, and free collection from Lymington can also be arranged.
"Feedback has been amazing so far – I’m really hoping it will just grow so that I have a sustainable community of cheese lovers," said Matthew.
"It’s also been really lovely having the chance to chat to like-minded cheese lovers – cheese is certainly something people get very passionate about."
To find out more or to order a box, visit www.thelymingtoncheesestore.co.uk