Simon Raine is the MD and Cheesemeaker at Weardale Cheese. Based in the unique setting of an old Prisoner of War camp hut at Harperley, Simon hand-makes a range of hard and semi-soft, white, blue and smoked cheeses, which he sells across the north east to farm shops, deli’s, pubs, restaurants and at food fairs and festivals. Graduating from Newcastle University with a BA (Hons) in Economics and Economic History, Simon’s career began in the dairy division of Northern Foods. Before establishing Weardale Cheese in 2015, he was MD of a York based distribution company for 15 years. Simon is currently starring in his own one-man show, ‘Confessions of a Cheesemaker’, where scores of W.I. ladies across Co. Durham endure his talk on cheese.
PROJECT OFFICER, OASES
Amy studied County Durham’s local food system for a Masters by research in Anthropology, Durham University (2009-2011). Her time researching local food activism led her to establish Fruitful Durham, a social enterprise which gleans local surplus fruit, grows fruit trees and shares skills about fruit production and cooking. Amy is a coordinator of Durham Local Food, a grassroots news sharing network and she is an administrator for an online County Durham local food directory. She has also carried out research on school milk schemes, has taught a course on food writing skills and has conducted food democracy workshops. Amy is one of the founders of Durham Food Cooperative which buys ethical and local foods for its members.
DIRECTOR OF CATERING, DURHAM UNIVERSITY
Paul is Acting Director of Catering for Durham University. He has worked as Deputy Director of Catering (Retail) for the past eight years, with responsibility for creating and implementing the strategic plan for all retail catering services. Working with colleagues Paul has ensured the department makes a positive contribution to the student experience, whilst maintaining financial sustainability. Paul continues to support the catering services at Queens Campus, combining retail catering services and college dining for both John Snow College and Stephenson College. Prior to joining the University Paul gained extensive experience working with Starbucks Coffee Company. Paul’s roles ranged from New Store Opening Specialist within the Republic of Ireland to District Manager within the North East and Cumbria. As District Manager Paul was responsible for achieving operational excellence across nine high volume stores with an annual turnover of £11 million.
PUBLIC PROCUREMENT SPECIALIST
Jamie Thomas is a public procurement specialist with particular experience in the policy and practice of social value, sustainable supply chains, and small business engagement. Originally from Scotland, Jamie has lived in County Durham for 14 years. Until 2018 he worked for Durham County Council where he was the lead officer for sustainable procurement and social value, helping to ensure the Council delivered on its commitments to sustainable food procurement, favouring seasonal and local produce and supporting specific initiatives such as Sustainable Fish Cities. Now a civil servant he remains based in Durham and retains a passion for ensuring that the money spent by public bodies with their suppliers not only delivers their immediate business needs, but serves the wider public good.
Head of Catering- County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
Dr. Bruce Scholten
ACADEMIC, DURHAM UNIVERSITY
Bruce grew up on a family dairy farm in the USA, north of Seattle near the Canadian border. They were almost organic and pastured their cows until falling milk prices forced enlargement and confinement of the animals for most of the year.At the Geography Department of Durham University he did an MA on India’s White Revolution, fostering social development via farmers’ cooperatives and followed this with a PhD on Consumer preference for local, organic or conventional food in Newcastle (UK) & Seattle USA in farmers’ markets, box schemes and direct marketing. He has taught and lectured in geography and social sciences at Durham, Newcastle and Sunderland universities and WEA in the Northeast. He is now researching how UK, US & Indian co-ops respond to consumers’ ideas on climate, diet, and animal welfare. Since 1988, he has written for magazines like Hoard’s Dairyman on topics ranging from Brexit, labour, and plastic recycling.
PROJECT AND RESEARCH MANAGER, VISIT COUNTY DURHAM
Lucy is the Project and Research Manager at Visit County Durham, having worked there for around 10 years after starting her career in marketing in local government. As part of her role, Lucy manages Taste Durham – the destination food brand for the county which promotes the food offer to residents and visitors alike. The primary purpose of this is to promote the distinctive experience you can have in the county, from the wealth of high quality local suppliers and the range of eating establishments. Visitor spend on food and drink is the highest yielding of all sectors in the visitor economy at 37%, totalling £333m annually. Lucy works alongside local producers to help them with a route to market for the eating establishments as well as managing the Taste Durham Award scheme, which is a national quality accreditation for food and drink businesses to ensure that the county has a quality, distinctive offer for it’s customers.
NFU NORTHUMBERLAND AND NORTH DURHAM COUNTY ADVISOR
PUBLIC HEALTH ADVANCED PRACTITIONER, DURHAM COUNTY COUNCIL