Supporting Yorkshire Charity Clay Days

Supporting Yorkshire Charity Clay Days

Whilst Caroline headed down to London for the Royal Garden party, Bartek and I (Katie) got to attend the Yorkshire Charity Clay days (YCCD) on the 8th and 9th May… what an event!

This year, the YCCD celebrated its 25th year since inception. This wonderful event, initially hosted at Hovingham Estate has now found it’s home at the stunning Duncombe Park Estate, Helmsley, by the kind permission of the Hon. Jake Duncombe. Helmsley is 30 minutes from Shepherds Purse HQ just outside Thirsk. Guests enter a team of 4 into the days clay pigeon shooting competition which commences at 9am. Each team will shoot at 6 stands or varying difficulties and on completion return to a Duncombe Park grounds for a 5-star lunch, drinks, and fundraising activities. 

The aim of both these days is to support Yorkshire Charities, which in turn helps those most in need throughout the county. The money raised over the years is simply staggering – since 2018 alone, when the stewardship of the event was taken over by Chris Blundell and The Hon. Jake Duncombe, almost 1.6 million has been donated to Yorkshire Charities.

So how has Shepherds Purse managed to become involved I bet you are wondering…Well, grab a cuppa and I will explain…

On the 7th of March last year our family’s journey with Bowel Cancer took a tragic turn when our mum, Judy Bell MBE lost her fight a couple of months shy of her 71st Birthday. Mum was only diagnosed in December 2020. She dedicated her life to helping so many people across the Yorkshire Food & Business Community, giving her time, knowledge, and passion freely, expecting nothing in return other than the pleasure of seeing other businesses flourish.

Since Mums death we have been truly overwhelmed with wonderful stories of how Mum had impacted so many and we are so, so grateful to hear them. So, in honour of Mum's legacy, I asked myself what I could do to try and help people...

...I could run the London Marathon for Bowel Cancer UK and try and raise as much money as possible to help fight this awful disease.

I did it… I ran the marathon in October 2022 and raised just over £7,000 for Bowel Cancer UK. It was amazing, gruelling, and emotional all in one but knowing the money raised was going to support so many was so rewarding.

As I was completing my final training runs for the marathon, I was also in cahoots with 5 friends in the early stages of planning a Charity ball to raise funds for Cancer. This was initially discussed at Mums funeral and as the year progressed our ideas and plans became real – Ball at the Barns was its official title, held at the stunning Thirsk Lodge Barns which a spectacular recently converted wedding venue, just a few miles from Shepherds Purse and owned by the Bell family (no relation, I think!) the date was set for the 4th of February 2023.

The ball exceeded all our expectations. We were hoping to reach a figure of perhaps £15,000 for the evening, we surpassed £40,000 which was incredible!

It was during the final call to action for auction gifts, that I first became aware of the Yorkshire Charity Clay Days. Finally, I am coming to the why we were involved in YCCD….

I contacted Chris Blundell (one of the aforementioned stewards of the event). He owns Provenance Inns which heads up 8 fine dining/country restaurants across North Yorkshire and our local is the Carpenters Arms at Felixkirk, which is also where Chris lives.

Very generously, Chris offered us huge support with auction prizes, and it was during these discussions, Chris mentioned the up-and-coming Yorkshire Charity Clay Days, wondering if Shepherds Purse may be interested in suppling cheese for the 500 participants joining each day.

At this point, I had not come across YCCD, why it was established, who participated, who were the benefitting charities, so Chris sent me further details and it was when I read this that I KNEW we had to be involved…

One of the 5 chosen charities to benefit from all the money raised was going to be the Herriot Hospice @ The Lambert in Thirsk. This wonderful charity supported Mum with such care and dignity in her final few weeks, ensuring that she was able to stay at home which was exactly what she wanted. They were invaluable to not only mum, but us as a family.

This amazing charity, Herriot Hospice @ The Lambert aim is to bring inpatient care, bereavement, and emotional well-being support closer to home for the people of Hambleton and Richmondshire, keeping families together at the hardest times. Their plan is to open a refurbished Lambert in Autumn 2023 having already raise over £1 million, a further £600,000 is required to ensure its doors open as scheduled.

We were IN!

March 2023 and the preparation was well under way for our involvement…

James Cain OBE and Nicky visited us, meeting with myself, Caroline and Bartek to discuss logistics and how we could be involved. It was an inspiring meeting.

Bartek and I met then also with the culinary genius, Paul Lee, who for many years has been tasked with pulling together a spectacular dining feast for over 1000 hungry guns over 2 days. Bartek has known Paul for many years, given his extensive background in hospitality, this was certainly going to be first class food and a first-class dining experience too… again wow

While Paul knew and used several of our range, Yorkshire Blue, Mrs Bells Blue… we had him with our Buffalo Blue, he was blown away by the flavours it delivered… First addition to the cheese board, check! This was closely followed by our Harrogate Blue, a little more power and visually vibrant with its golden body – it would definitely stand out. We then decided on our Bluemin White, blue mould-rinded soft and gooey delight and finally to freshen the board, Olde York, fresh and lemony ewes milk cheese.  A full Shepherds Purse Cheeseboard for over 1000 guests…

As well as providing the cheeseboard we were also asked if we would consider sampling our cheeses throughout the shooting activities each morning, basically feeding the hungry shooters – a great chance to talk all things cheese.  We decided to serve the cheeses on our friend, Lottie Shaw's amazing fruit cake and Millers water crackers.

We were all set… fast forward to the event…

Bartek and I met up at Duncombe Park on the Sunday morning to set up our promotional stand. I know I keep saying, but it isn’t until you are there that you realise just how spectacular Duncombe Park really is. Steeped in historical grandeur, even the fine murky drizzle couldn’t dampen the feeling that this was going to be a truly remarkable event.

We were delighted to be situated next to our fabulous friends TWISTED Automotive who are based in Thirsk and in fact family friends.  On out other side, E J Churchill who have two of the finest shooting facilities in the world.

As we were not selling our cheeses, set up was relatively painless. You don’t need to know about us trying to add the graphics to stand when it was the wrong way round and wondering why they wouldn’t fit!

We had gift boxes and accompaniments on show, bees wax wraps, fizz, and port (essentials)… we were however missing something… no cheese… flipping heck, so much for our streamline set-up!

Other than the cheese we were good to go… roll on Monday morning and praying for better weather!  I dispatched myself immediately back to the farm to collect all the dummy cheeses, just for peace of mind!

I met Bartek at 8am on Monday morning. He had arrived at 7.15am and delivered the cheeseboard cheese to Paul Lee and his team.

When I arrived, guests were already flowing into the hospitality marquee and the rain had already started for the day… the joys. Bartek and I quickly opened the front of our stand to allow guests to browse following breakfast. We then quickly made our way over to stand 1 (which was a few miles away by car) to set up ready for sampling.  By 9.15am the teams of guns were making their way around the stands and the rain was persistent. While it made the shooting very challenging, it did mean that our tent was full of people who were trying to escape the great British weather.

We had decided to sample Buffalo Blue and Mrs Bells Salad Cheese, both of which were topping the fruit cake as previously mentioned. The Buffalo Blue was literally blowing people away, coming back for seconds and thirds, they could not believe the combination worked so well. It’s at times like this when we witness such incredible feedback… it just makes us so proud of everything we do, our amazing team at HQ who, without their dedication, attention to detail and genuine care and love for Shepherds Purse, we could not deliver these types of experiences.

I left stand 1 at about 12pm to head back to the grounds of Duncombe Park as some of the shooting teams would be returning for drinks in anticipation of the special lunch and auction. 

What greeted me was a DISASTER and I am not being at all dramatic…

Bartek and I had left the stand open so those who had tasted product on the shooting stand could easily find us for further details. What we had not thought about was the weather… it was raining which we knew BUT the wind was blowing the wrong way - directly onto our sampling table… EVERYTHING was drenched, I was literally walking on water…Cue stand renovation for day 2!

Bartek joined me at about 1pm and we chatted with the guest who were willing to brave the weather. The event was sponsored by JCT1000 and so there were some stunning cars on display…Bartek was like a child in a sweet shop… I did manage to get a pic of him sat in spanking Rolls Royce!

As the guests were called for lunch, we took the opportunity to check in with Paul Lee and his team, just to check all was going to plan. The cheeses looked amazing on their mini boards, with a quick prompt from Bartek the identifying cheese flags were added and they were good to go!

I had the opportunity to catch up with Herriot team who I met when we executed the Ball at the Barns in February.  It was exciting to catch up with Lucy and Sandra and discuss all things fundraising and targets, wondering what this 2-day event could bring to Herriot Hospice @The Lambert… Fingers were crossed.

Champagne, wine, and gin were flowing in abundance as bidding for the afternoon got underway…. All I can say is WOW the generosity of the guest in the room was absolutely astounding. There were 41 Silent Auction lots where bidding opened a week or so prior and tablets were on each table to allow bidding on the afternoon… These lots ranged from a 2-night stay for up to 22 people at West Acre lodge, Boltby near Thirsk with Dinner to a Ferrari Factory experience for two people in Maranello, near Bologna, Northern Italy…

There was also a LIVE Auction with 8 lots… these were literally unbelievable with one day’s shooting making £35,000 and as it was charity, the bidder doubled it £70,000. We were in awe and, also slightly excited as to what this may mean for the Herriot team. No exact figures were given on what was raised that afternoon as the silent auction as still open.

We retreated home to dry out following the end of the auction which was about 5pm but I am told from a reliable source that the afternoon continued well after we left!

Day 2…

Started pretty much as day 1 but we decided to sample more cheeses on the shooting stand as we had such a captive but, in some cases very hungover, audience. Harrogate Blue, Bluemin White, Buffalo Blue and Mrs Bells Salad cheeses were all on offer and certainly did not disappoint.

This time Bartek retreated to Duncombe Park at 12pm, no disaster today, just glorious sunshine which prompted mingling with Champagne and cheese - what’s not to love!

The afternoon pretty much mirrored day 1 with some huge sums of money being offered for some luxury auction lots… as we left, they were very close to having raised £500,000 in 2 days!!

What 2 days we had!

We met some wonderful people from all over the country who were absolutely blown away by our cheeses both on the cheeseboard and sampling on the shooting stand. We have welcomed some new Shepherds Purse fans as we can see orders pinging through on our website.

 It was a privilege to meet and work with Paul Lee and his team who created such a fantastic lunch, we look forward to teaming up again soon.

Thank you to Chris for opening our eyes to this event.

Over the 2 days the event has raised £550,000. We are eagerly awaiting to hear the proportion which the Herriot Hospice @The Lambert may receive.

Until next time… 

Love Katie x

P.S. Bartek and I have signed up to run this years Great North Run for the Herriot Hospice Team which is on the 10th of September and Caroline, myself and the team are looking at more ways we can support so watch this space!