The Chelsea Pensioners have kicked off their annual dairy celebrations with the Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses.
British cheesemakers donated over 270kg of the finest cheeses from around the UK for the event.
Donations included cheddar, stilton, brie and red Leicester, with this year’s ceremonial cheese a giant 24kg of Montgomery Cheddar, donated by J A E Montgomery Ltd.
Dairy UK, which organises the event for the Chelsea Pensioners, pointed to the enduring popularity of cheese, citing figures showing that more than nine out of ten UK households purchase cheese.
With 2018 marking the centenary of the Armistice, tribute was paid to the brave men and women who have given their lives in conflict, and those who have fought in every conflict since WW1 to ensure freedom.
Dairy UK Chair, Paul Vernon, who attended the event, highlighted the historic role cheddar rations played in providing important nutrients to soldiers.
Cutting of the cheese
The traditional cutting of the ceremonial cheese was carried out this year by Chelsea Pensioner Alan Goddard.
Alan enlisted at Southampton on the 13th March 1961, joining the Grenadier Guards and serving with the 2nd Battalion before retiring in 1983.
Alan saw service in Hong Kong, Belize, British Guyana and completed four separate tours of Northern Ireland.
He finished his career with a UN tour in Cyprus and was discharged in 1983, having been promoted to the rank of Sergeant and served 22 years.
On leaving the Army, Alan worked both as a security driver and as a security guard, before his retirement in 2005, aged 65. Alan joined the Royal Hospital as a Chelsea Pensioner in September 2009.
Alan said: “I feel very pleased to have been chosen to cut the cheese at this year’s ceremony and to be a part of a Royal Hospital tradition that dates back to its opening in 1692. Thanks to the generosity of Dairy UK in continuing this tradition, my fellow Chelsea Pensioners and I can enjoy these delicious cheeses over the festive period!”