The Skittery family in Herefordshire have been crowned the overall winners in HEINEKEN’s Golden Apple Awards.

HEINEKEN, the name behind some of the nation’s best loved ciders including Bulmers and Strongbow, holds the biennial event to celebrate the contribution its orchard growers make in providing the great quality British cider apples it needs every year.

The Golden Apple Awards celebrate commitment to quality, land management and sustainability.  The Skitterys’ farm, run by brothers James and Michael, was crowned the winner as judges were impressed by their attention to detail in every aspect of orcharding.  The team prune every tree every year, leading to healthy trees and consistent high quality fruit.  The Skitterys also take great care in making sure they protect and enhance the local environment.

This is the second time the family have won – their father, David, was awarded the Golden Apple in 1987.  The farm in Little Marcle was originally planted in 1975 and James and Michael now have 75 acres of orchards, or 18,000 trees, growing 20-25 tonnes of fruit per acre.

James Skittery said: “We were delighted to have won this prestigious award and are really happy that we managed to keep it a secret for so long. The event itself was a great success and we are all pleased and proud to have this recognition from the judges.”

After presenting the awards, David Forde Manager Director at HEINEKEN said: “The Golden Apple Awards are a great way for us to highlight and celebrate the very high standards reached by the apple farmers we work with. Events like this mean we can thank our farmers for continuing to drive those standards forward in terms of exceptional quality, sustainability and environmental leadership. Congratulations once again to the Skittery family, this award demonstrates their absolute commitment to quality and is well deserved.”