Local thinking has opposition licked

NORTH East support has seen an ice cream maker lick its opposition.

Frances Maxwell 4, of Doddington Dairy near Wooler.

NORTH East support has seen an ice cream maker lick its opposition. Since it was born in 2000, Doddington Dairy’s luxury ice cream has continued to win admirers across the region.

Now their quirky range of flavours has been added to the snacks list at the Metro Radio Arena.

The deal, which first saw the specially-packaged products added to the arena freezers for the first time this winter, is potentially worth £10,000 a year to the family farm, based near Wooler, Northumberland.

It means the popular flavours, including Chainbridge Honey and Newcastle Brown Ale are now available at big venues The Sage Gateshead, the Journal Tyne Theatre, Northern Stage, and Alnwick Garden, as well as the region’s National Trust and English Heritage sites.

Owners Neill and Jackie Maxwell claim it is this support from local stockists, and popularity among North East families which has helped their business stay strong as the recession impacted on the region.

Mr Maxwell said: “It has meant the difference between the business succeeding or failing. We still do more than 75% of our business in the North East and we’re looking to see that grow.

“We live in a very quiet part of the world economically.

“Without local support, from local businesses – instead of buying from national producers – we wouldn’t be surviving.

“There’s not a lot of people in Northumberland, but if they make their support count, then local businesses work. That’s been shown with us.

“We’re a small business, but we’ve been able to secure the support of big organisations from the region, which has made a huge difference to us.”

In the late 1990s farmers Jackie and Neill realised the key to survival lay in diversification.

The couple spotted a niche and set up what has become the only farm-produced ice cream between Yorkshire and Aberdeen.

The dairy also produces an award-winning range of farmhouse cheeses.

Their ice cream flavours were soon snapped up by farm shops, delis, pubs, cafes, and restaurants across the region, before Asda added the tubs to their shelves.

Mr Maxwell added: “They’ve been very supportive and a pleasure to deal with.

“It means we have access to customers in the more urban parts of the region, where there are less delicatessens.

“It’s been a great benefit making an in-road into the supermarket culture, which tends to dominate city areas.

“And everything we can do to promote the region helps all the local products, which are made here. It helps create the mentality that whatever you want there is an affordable, quality option available from a Northumberland producer.”

Doddington’s strong emphasis on sourcing from quality local producers has inspired its flavours, which includes Alnwick Rum. The owners believe this attitude is what helps secure jobs in the region.

“We’re in a very rural, agricultural area, which isn’t wealthy. But the help we’ve had means we can support six jobs,” said Mr Maxwell.

“We’re essentially a summer industry, but local firms choosing to stock our products means we can retain the staff.

“Six jobs doesn’t sound like a lot by Tyneside standards, but in remote parts of the country, in small villages it’s a significant amount.”

Without local support, from local businesses – instead of buying from national producers – we wouldn’t be surviving


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer