Richard Fuller joins The Cotswold Cider Company as Chairman

Richard Fuller joins The Cotswold Cider Company as Chairman

Photo of Richard Fuller (l) and Rory Souter (r) founder of The Cotswold Cider Company

Fuller’s non-executive Director joins as craft cider business targets major expansion

Richard, sixth generation of the brewing family, sees “great opportunity for growth, both at home and abroad”

Richard Fuller has been appointed Chairman of the award-winning Cotswold Cider Company. The makers of distinctive real cider, whose products include No Brainer, Sideburns and Sweet Cheeks, are delighted to welcome Richard, from the legendary Fuller’s brewing family, on board.

Founder Rory Souter says

 “Richard joins us at a great time for the company as we expand our operations, and we’re very fortunate to be able to draw on his depth of experience in the trade. His previous involvement with Cornish Orchards cider, prior to its sale to Asahi, will be invaluable in taking our regional company forward and to help give real cider the recognition it deserves”.

Richard Fuller commented

“I am delighted to be joining such a forward-looking company that produces wonderful and very original natural craft ciders. There is a great opportunity for growth, both at home and abroad, and I am very excited about helping Rory and The Cotswold Cider Company realise its potential.”

The Cotswold Cider CoThe Cotswold Cider Company was founded in 2009 in Coleshill, Oxfordshire, and from the outset has set out to be a high quality cider brand, using low intervention techniques to produce full flavour craft ciders with playful personality and original character. It has achieved good organic growth with flagship national and regional accounts and a wide range of products and formats, including draught. The Cotswold Cider Company’s products are all fermented from 100% fresh pressed English apples, and never from concentrate; the range includes

(bottled cider) No Brainer, Sideburns, Sweet Cheeks, Blow Horn and Tuk
(canned cider) She Devil, Freak Show, Voodoo Pulp, Shape-Shifter

For more information please visit
or email / phone 07979 957136.

Blossomtime is back!

Blossomtime is back!

The buds are starting to burst on the apple trees, last autumn’s cider is getting ready to be tasted, and the time is fast approaching for Blossomtime in and around Putley in Herefordshire where the Big Apple has been welcoming visitors for thirty years.  Having cancelled this spring event in 2020 and 2021, the community organisation behind the Big Apple is delighted to be able to invite them back again on Sunday 1 and Monday 2 May.  “When we were able to hold our autumn event last October, visitors were enthusiastic about the opportunity to enjoy being out and about in the countryside”, said spokesman Jackie Denman.  “Our cider and perry community responded so positively when we managed to arrange a delayed Big Apple Cider and Perry Trials in July 2021.  Now we can bring it all together again, with a Grand Cider Tasting at Putley Parish Hall, time spent under the apple trees at Dragon Orchard, and one-off events at Court Farm Aylton and Pixley Festival Church.  The full programme is available online at  We can’t wait to get back!”

Elmley FoundationAs well as opportunities to taste a whole range of entries to the Cider and Perry Trials, cider and perry on sale will include artisan makers Artistraw Cider and Perry, Bartestree Cider, Gregg’s Pit Cider and Perry, Halfpenny Green Cider Company and Pope’s Perry.  Highlights include ‘#RethinkCider’, a talk from Jane Peyton, the UK’s first accredited ‘pommelier’ and founder of the School of Booze, and drop-in printmaking with Laughing Betsy, supported by the Elmley Foundation, using ‘kitchen lithography’ and inspired by objects and images on loan from local families associated with cidermaking and apple growing.   Three guided walks each day will tell the stories of the orchards in and around Putley – will it be Norman’s Gap, Dorothy’s Delight or Nigel’s Pride?  And, of course, there will be the usual delicious lunches and teas (and this time a brunch) provided by local community groups.

Jackie Denman
Secretary, Big Apple Association Ltd.
Tel. 01531 670544



The specially created wildlife area, which will extend to approximately an acre in size, will run alongside the popular Strawberry Line cycle and footpath in Sandford, with family-run cider maker Thatchers hoping it will make a real contribution to the local environment and the biodiversity of the area.

Emma Pyle, Thatchers Cider, helps plant wildflowers in a new conservation area being planned by the Somerset Cider Maker

Two areas of coppice woodland will border a central grassland plateau. Planting of 169 trees and hedges includes native species such as hawthorn and hazel, English oak and field maple, together with more planting of grasses and nectar-rich wildflowers. This planting will help create sheltered micro-habitats, and will aid the important retention of a dark corridor for bats and other wildlife.

A special group of ten trees along The Strawberry Line has been planted and dedicated to the Queens Green Canopy campaign, celebrating the Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

Eleanor Thatcher, right, and Andy Jones, Avon Wildlife Trust, plant wildflowers in a new conservation area being planned by Somerset cider maker Thatchers

With its 500 acres of Somerset apple orchard, Thatchers is already home to a diverse habitat, and at Myrtle Farm has recorded 13 species of bat, as well as birds which are on the BOCC (Birds of Conservation Concern) Red and Amber lists, including house sparrow and redwing, grey wagtail and mistle thrush. It is hoped that the new conservation area will become a familiar home to many of these species, with the trees and plants selected to create a protected and foraging-rich haven.

“It’s important to us to maintain the biodiversity of our site here at Myrtle Farm,” says Gary Delafield, Operations Director at Thatchers. “As a cider maker rooted in the rural community, we’ve always been surrounded by trees and farmland, and recognise the role that a biodiverse environment plays. Myrtle Farm is already a very vibrant place for wildlife, and with this new conservation area, we’ll be increasing its biodiversity by over 85%.”

The habitat is expected provide a picturesque and interesting stop off point along the Strawberry Line, which is designated as a public footpath running alongside Myrtle Farm.

Thatchers has been working closely with the Avon Wildlife Trust in creating the area, together with arboricultural consultancy Cambium.

Fifth generation cider maker Eleanor Thatcher has been closely involved in the planning of the conservation area.

“Myrtle Farm is where I’ve grown up, and I’ve been used to seeing animals such as deer and hare in the orchards from an early age. It’s so important for us to encourage wildlife at Myrtle Farm,” she says. “This new conservation area will bring the wildlife right into the heart of Myrtle Farm, and we can’t wait to see which visitors will be the first to arrive in the Spring.”

Thatchers and the Avon Wildlife Trust will be erecting information boards alongside the conservation area, featuring more detail about the planting and resident wildlife.

Eleanor concludes, “We are no strangers to planting trees – in fact over the last decade Thatchers has planted some 158,000 apple trees in our orchards. And in 2022 we’re continuing to donate hundreds of apple trees to organisations and charities taking part in our Community Orchard Project. Our orchards are already havens for wildlife, but this conservation area is extra special, creating a new protected habitat for birds, animals and insects here at Myrtle Farm.”

Cider industry calls for a rethink of Duty Review proposals

Cider industry calls for a rethink of Duty Review proposals

Photo from left to right: David Sheppy (Sheppy’s Cider), Martin Thatcher (Thatchers Cider), Fenella Tyler (Chief Executive NACM), Sir Bill Wiggin MP, James Crampton (Heineken), Helen Thomas (Westons Cider)

The National Association of Cider Makers has petitioned Number 10 Downing Street, urging the Government to rethink measures currently proposed in the Alcohol Duty Review.

In a letter to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, delivered Tuesday 8 March by Sir Bill Wiggin MP and leading members of the cider industry, the NACM said Treasury proposals would disproportionately impact the most traditional ciders.

With many ciders set to see duty increases of up to 40%, the letter calls for the basic rate of excise duty to be adjusted so that no cider below 5.6% ABV sees an increase.

The move would protect the heritage of cider making and “reduce the number of ciders impacted significantly by measures proposed in the Duty Review, with minimal impact on government revenue”, the letter says.

At a time when the cider industry faces significant pressure, having declined 44% in 12 years, and now accounting for only 4.6% of the alcohol market, cider makers are calling for greater support to encourage innovation.

The letter explains that fruit ciders should be recognised as an important part of the category, be clearly defined and treated fairly. Current duty rules see these ciders taxed as made-wine despite being made using the same apples and on the same sites as apple ciders.

Later in the day, cider industry leaders later gathered in Westminster alongside a wide number of MPs to celebrate the contribution of cider to the economy and rural life.

Sir Bill Wiggin MP signs I Support British Cider

Cider making is an integral part of British heritage and without the industry, 16,500 acres of apple orchards and 35% of all UK-grown apples would be at risk, as would the communities that rely on them.

With 11,500 direct and indirect jobs reliant on the industry and more than half a million tourists visiting cider makers each year, the cider industry is vital to rural communities.

Sir Bill Wiggin MP, Member of Parliament for North Herefordshire, said:

It was excellent to see so many cider makers gathered together to promote this great industry. I am very aware of the importance of cider making to our rural counties, as Herefordshire has more cider apple orchards than any other county in the UK. It is very important that we ensure the proposed duty changes support this great industry.”

Fenella Tyler, Chief Executive, National Association of Cider Makers, said:

“Cider makers play an important role in their local communities, supporting employment and tourism.  Cider apple orchards are economically important to farmers, but also support a wealth of biodiversity and create stunning scenery for visitors to our counties. At a time when cider is facing some of the toughest market conditions ever experienced, we need to see the Government supporting us, our employees, farmers and the communities where we are based.”

James Crampton, Chair, National Association of Cider Makers, said:

“British cider is at the heart of rural life and carries significant cultural heritage. I was delighted to see such wonderful support for our iconic industry among Parliamentarians and urge the Government to listen to our concerns for the future of this great British industry.”

Breakthrough Cider Maker Competition

Breakthrough Cider Maker Competition

Following the success of the inaugural Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards, entries are now open for 2022. These remarkable awards are free to enter and offer aspiring cider makers advice, guidance and guaranteed listings with the on and off trade. The closing date for applications is 28th February.

Barny Butterfield, Chief Cidermaker at Sandford Orchards explains: ”The Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards are nothing like any other cider competition. It’s the competition that I wish I could have won when I was starting out. Without a budget, without much help and support, it can be really daunting trying to get started in any career, let alone cider. The winners of these awards benefit from priceless help on the journey: mentoring, advice on strategy and branding, technical help with cider production and guaranteed listing in both on and off trade. This is an award with the kind of bankable bonus that doesn’t grow on trees!”

The 2022 prize includes: business strategy mentoring with Barny Butterfield, founder of Sandford Orchards, a retail listing at Darts Farm, Devon, on-trade listing with one of The Stable restaurants, £500 to spend with equipment and consumables supplier, Vigo limited, mentoring from our cider makers, including a visit to our site and theirs and a Sandford Orchards winner limited edition cider. Moreover, everybody who enters will receive thorough, detailed, actionable feedback on their entry.

Barny continues: “The cider makers entering the Breakthrough Awards have their sights set on growing and improving all parts of their businesses and to get more of their fantastic ciders into more hands. The BCMA is a slingshot prize to a cider maker that the judges feel has the kind of promise, purpose and potential to go to the next level. We were overwhelmed by the high standard of entries last year and look forward to meeting even more dedicated fledgling producers this year.”

The winner of the inaugural awards was Thornborough cider. Owner, Kingsley Ash, explains: “Winning the Breakthrough Awards not only gave us validation and confirmation that we were doing the right thing, but also gave us access to a network of experts for advice, feedback, inspiration and guidance. The prizes themselves have been great, with the Vigo voucher enabling us to up our output, which was lucky as our orders increased significantly over the duration of the award. It has had a hugely positive impact on our business. Any cider makers with ambitions for growth should definitely apply.”

Barny adds: “I am so proud that Sandford Orchards has been able to make these awards a reality. It feels great to be able to give something back to the industry that has given me so much. Bringing cider makers together is always brilliant for sharing ideas and dreaming up plans which we all hope will bring the joy of cider to more and more people. By supporting the energetic future of cider across the country we hope to reach out to curious wine, beer and spirit drinkers and grow the love for this marvellous drink.”

The Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards were launched by Sandford Orchards at the end of 2019 and aim to recognise and celebrate excellent quality whole juice ciders from around the UK. They are free to enter and open to cider makers producing between 3,000 and 15,000 litres of cider per year who can enter now at sandford

For further information on Sandford Orchards and the Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards please visit email or follow Sandford Orchards on Twitter, Facebook and  Instagram

  • Key Dates
    • Entries close 28th Feb
    • Sample deadline 7th Mar
    • Shortlist announced 21st March
    • April – winners announced.
  • The prizes for 2022 for the Gold & Silver winners are:
    • A 12 month listing at Dart’s Farm
    • A listing at their most local Stable
    • Mentoring from our cider makers, including a visit to our site
    • Everybody who enters will receive thorough, detailed, actionable feedback on their entry.
  • Additional prizes for the Gold winner are:
    • A £500 Vigo voucher
    • A Sandford Orchards winner limited edition cider
    • A visit to the winner’s site by our cider makers to offer practical help and advice about set up.
  • Founded in 2002, independent, family-owned Sandford Orchards is based in Mid Devon in the oldest working cider mill in the UK. They press and ferment whole juice from the finest locally grown bittersweet apples and age it to perfection to create beautifully balanced and naturally refreshing cider.
  • Sandford Orchards’ range of ciders includes session ciders and a selection of flavoured ciders and recently launched new vintage ciders.
  • For further information on Sandford Orchards please visit email or follow Sandford Orchards on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.