PHOTO: Martin Thatcher visits Weston Hospicecare, meeting community fundraisers Abi and Kirsty, to see apple trees planted for the Thatchers Community Orchard Project [Copyright Neil Phillips Photo and Film Ltd]

Community groups around the country have been planting apple trees this spring thanks to The Thatchers Community Orchard Project. 

Attracting hundreds of applications in the project’s third year, from as far afield as Aberdeen to Worthing, the Somerset cider maker has supported over 100 groups wanting to enhance their communities, with 500 apple trees donated this year.

Including residents’ associations, parish councils, allotment groups, and care homes, five apple trees were donated to each of the successful applicants. To apply, they needed to explain why planting apple trees would make a difference to their communities.

Thatchers Community Orchard Project – Martin Thatcher meets Emma, Nicky, Elaine and Bethan from Weston Super Mare Cricket Club who received apple trees through the project.
Copyright Neil Phillips Photo and Film Ltd

“It’s always a real pleasure to distribute apple trees to organisations who really care about the community around them,” says Martin Thatcher, fourth generation of the cider making family. “We’ve been brought up with trees all around us at Myrtle Farm – so through this project we’re looking to spread apple tree love across the UK.

“With applications from the North of Scotland to the South West, from both rural and urban communities, by donating apple trees we can help communities in so many different ways – from helping green urban residential communities, providing an area of peace and solitude to care homes, and an educational resource to schools and colleges.”

With leading ciders such as Gold and Haze to its name, and over 500 acres of its own orchards in Somerset, Thatchers knows a thing or two about planting apple trees.

“There’s no better tree than an apple tree,” continues Martin. “From the tree’s beauty in spring when in full blossom, to the fascination of seeing the fruit develop throughout the summer, to the excitement of harvest, there’s always something new to see in an orchard.

“The enthusiasm we’ve seen amongst volunteers supporting their communities is inspirational, and we’re delighted to be playing our part with this community tree planting project.”

This is the third year the Somerset cider maker has run its Community Orchard Project, and brings the total number of organisations supported since launch to 175, with almost 1000 apple trees so far donated and planted across the country.

“The project shares our family’s passion for apple trees, building communities and constant support of the environment and ecosystem around us today and for the future,” Martin concludes.

Thatchers Community Orchard Project was first run in 2021. The project attracted such demand in its first year, the family run cider maker decided to more than double the number of trees it gave away in its second year, and in its third year doubling the number of organisations it has supported.



Thatchers Cider unveils a new TV commercial this week (Thursday 25th May 2023), which sees the Somerset cider maker collaborate with Bristol based, multi-Academy Award®-winning studio Aardman.

Airing for the first time on TV at 9.15pm on 25th May, the commercial uses Aardman’s stop motion animation technique to bring the viewer through the gates of Thatchers’ own Myrtle Farm home. We see how the family cider maker’s dedication along every step of the way achieves Pint-Sized Perfection.

Aardman uses its world-class skills in perfectly crafted hand-made miniature worlds to bring Thatchers’ expertise to the screen. Iconic elements of Myrtle Farm such as its orchards, help tell the story of carefully crafting the perfect drop of cider. Some familiar faces make an appearance throughout the commercial, including fourth generation cider maker Martin Thatcher making a big entrance for the weekly 12.30 tasting. Viewers will also recognise the iconic Thatchers’ hot air balloon, a familiar sight over the skies of Bristol.

West Country favourite, Thatchers, with its popular ciders including Thatchers Gold, Haze and Blood Orange, is still making cider at the same family farm where founder William Thatcher first grew and pressed apples almost 120 years ago. The Pint-Sized Perfection commercial tells the story of the Thatchers commitment to crafting the tastiest ciders, which are now sold right across the UK.

With its relentless pursuit of perfection, the commercial follows the cider making journey from the orchards to glass, through Aardman’s unique and characterful story telling technique.

Martin Thatcher, who has had cameo appearances in all of Thatchers recent TV ads, says, “Partnering with Aardman, a truly iconic brand with such amazing creative genius, and situated in the West Country as we are, allows us to introduce consumers to a new, light-hearted storytelling creative about our ciders. It’s been a real privilege to see how Aardman shares the same total commitment to painstaking perfection every step of the way, as we do at Thatchers.”

The commercial, conceptualised by creative communications agency, Bray Leino, has been directed by Will Studd from Aardman and produced by Danny Gallagher.

Will Studd adds, “I am thrilled to be directing a new advert for Thatchers, a cider brand that shares our passion for craft and attention to detail. As a paid-up cider enthusiast, I am drinking in the opportunity to bring the Thatchers family, farm, dog, and selected staff members to life with detailed puppets and sets.

“Being able to collaborate with such a well-established South West brand on this project is an honour, I’m eager to create a beautiful film that captures the essence of Thatchers and their focus on perfection.”

Lydia Gough, Sales & Marketing Manager at Aardman also says, “We are delighted to be working alongside South West based creative agency Bray Leino to create an ad for such an iconic brand as Thatchers.

“Thatchers and Aardman is a pairing made in heaven, two loved brands with a passion for their craft, both proudly independent and sharing roots in the South West. We are very excited for everyone to see the new commercial.”

Viewers may recognise the familiar voice of the narrator – Richard Ede – who has also featured in previous commercials from Thatchers.

With total dedication to their craft, a team of 40 creatives at Aardman were involved in the film, with animators alone needing over 480 hours to shoot the 40 second commercial.

Martin Thatcher continues, “This is a film that allows people to step into the world of Thatchers. Our passion for creating the most perfect cider is reflected in the genius of Aardman, whose animators have recreated life at Myrtle Farm in the most minute and exacting detail, from our iconic barn doors, to our hot air balloon where the basket was handwoven out of real straw. Fabric from our own workwear has even been used to create some of the costumes.”

The commercial will have a multi-media launch, the campaign continuing through to August. This will include linear TV, broadcast video on demand, cinema and YouTube.

The commercial can be viewed here:


ThatchersxAardman ‘Pint-Sized Perfection’ Commercial
From left to right, Danny Gallagher, Aardman; Eleanor Thatcher; Martin Thatcher; Will Studd, Aardman; with Myrtle The Dog.
Martin Thatcher,. Eleanor Thatcher, and Myrtle the Dog, with the puppets of themselves created by Aardman for the new Thatchers ‘Pint-Sized Perfection’ commercial
Copyright Neil Phillips Photo and Film Ltd





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.”



Grown in the foothills of Somerset’s picturesque Mendip Hills, the apples for Thatchers Cider’s newest blend all come from one single orchard, its Classics Orchard, and are part of research being undertaken by the cider maker to find the best way of planting orchards for the tastiest fruit.

The Classics is a full bodied, rich, golden cider at 8.4%, crafted from a blend of 26 different traditional apple varieties. The bittersweet and bittersharp apples are part of a trial being undertaken by Thatchers, that sees these heritage apple varieties grown for the first time along wires to increase the levels of sunlight received on the fruit.

Richard Johnson, Thatchers Head Cider Maker says, “Apples gathered from the Classics Orchard are a true window on the rich variety of cider’s heritage. Grown along wires to capture the sunlight, these traditional cider apples, all new to our blends, are being raised in the modern Thatchers’ hedgerow way.”

British cider maker Thatchers has pioneered the hedgerow style of planting apple trees in its orchards (as opposed to the more traditional bush orchards), where trees are supported on wires in a similar way to vines, so maximising sunlight on the fruit. Sunlight plays an important part in helping the fruit grow both in quality and quantity.

Family-owned Thatchers is committed to research and innovation, trialling lesser-known varieties for their suitability to Somerset soil and climatic conditions.  Planted in 2015, The Classics orchard is just a few miles from Myrtle Farm, overlooked by the picturesque Banwell Castle.

Since the 26 different varieties crop at different times throughout the harvest season, the apples have been picked at the right time for optimum ripeness, with the freshly pressed juice cold stored before being fermented and blended to make this unique cider.

Apples pressed into The Classics include Filbarrel, Broxwood Foxwhelp, Bloody Turk, White Jersey, Stembridge Cluster, Tom Putt and Cider Ladies Finger.

“With apples from our Classics Orchard raised within a few miles of Myrtle Farm, blended and packaged here at our mill, this is a cider that reflects the very heart of Somerset cider making,” continues Richard.

Thatchers The Classics is available from www.thatcherscider.co.uk, or from the Thatchers Cider Shop at Myrtle Farm, Sandford, Somerset.



Limited edition T-shirts, bearing the slogan #ThatchersPubHeroes, will be given to participating pubs and bars for them to sell themselves to customers. Proceeds stay with the pub – raising over £250,000 for UK pubs and bars.

In 2020, Thatchers donated over 6,000 kegs of cider to pubs and bars up and down the country to help get them back on their feet following the first national lockdown.

The Somerset cider maker is inviting pubs and bars who wish to be involved in the initiative to sign up at www.thatcherscider.co.uk/ThatchersPubHeroes. They will then receive 20 #ThatchersPubHeroes t-shirts free of charge.

The offer is open to Thatchers draught stockists throughout the UK and Thatchers is encouraging pubs to be quick to claim theirs as there are only 20,000 t-shirts available.

Martin Thatcher, fourth generation cider maker says, “The last 12 months have been challenging for us all, but none more so than for businesses within the hospitality industry, many of whom face an uncertain future. Whilst we can’t wait for pubs and bars to be open again, we want to do what we can in the meantime to lend our support and offer much needed cash in the till.  So we’ve created a limited-edition #ThatchersPubHeroes t-shirt in support of pubs and bars across the country. Made for pubs to support pubs!”

Thatchers is offering participating pubs social media support too – the cider maker will be letting its followers know which pubs are selling the t-shirts via an online map featured on their website. Every business can download their own Social Media assets from www.thatcherscider.co.uk/ThatchersPubHeroes