The story of Thaymar Dairy Ice-cream began two decades ago with Martin and Thelma Cheetham. Martin ran Haughton Park Farm, near Bothamsall, Retford with his two brothers and father.

With 90 pedigree Friesian cows, sheep and corn, each farmer brought their own expertise to the business. Martin was always particularly interested in dairy cattle, so he and Thelma ran that side of things. In the 1980s, when the couple had three children and a successful dairy business, an over-production of milk resulted in the introduction of quotas. Martin and Thelma had to lose 23% of their production. Having always had a personal interest in food and believing in home-made produce as opposed to commodity food, Thelma began to look for ways to make use of the superfluous milk.
Believing there was a gap in the market for quality ice-cream, Thelma took herself off to Reaseheath College in Cheshire and set about producing her own. In 1988, after experimenting with different flavours, Thaymar Dairy Ice-cream was launched. Thelma made the ice-cream and it was sold originally in a small farm shop before the opening of their tea room adjoining their family home. The same year Martin won an award for his dairy cows at Southwell Ploughing Match. He joked to the local paper that the cow they were photographing made fantastic ice-cream - the comments were published and visitors started coming to the farm. Thelma soon realised they needed to reach a wider market through farm shops. The first outlet was Taylor's of Tickhill. Thelma said: "I remember taking a delivery to them on a blazing hot day. We didn't have a freezer unit in the car so I just had tubs in a cool box. "Desperate to get it all there before it melted, I ended up getting a speeding ticket en-route. "The police officer was very understanding and let me take the delivery before coming back to receive the ticket."

Five years after launching Thaymar, Martin lost his life to cancer. The cows were sold and although Thelma carried on the business with buying milk and cream from a farm in Tuxford, little changed in the ten years that followed. During that time, the couple's eldest son Christopher went to study agriculture at university. He joined the business four years ago when he finished his degree. The buildings that had once housed the cows stood empty, so Christopher had them converted into a manufacturing area and tea rooms.

Now producing up to 1,200 litres of ice-cream a day, Thelma supplies many shops as well as running the shop and tea room. Thelma and Martin's two other children, Emily, who has a degree in food science, and Thomas, who is currently studying estate and land management, are also both involved in the business. The family employs eight more staff who all contribute towards the sale of ice-cream, frozen yoghurt and sorbet produced by Thaymar.

All the flavours are tried and tested by the Cheethams and their loyal customers. Some are suitable for diabetics and some are low in fat - made without cream. The rest are, as Thelma explained, made with natural ingredients and full of nutrition.
"My mother never let me have food with colourings and flavourings in and things are starting to go 'full circle'. "We don't use any artificial ingredients and parents bring their children after school for an ice-cream - they know it has good nutritional value. "We don't supply to large supermarkets but the ice-cream can be found all over the place in farm shops. It is still all hand-made by us and we try and source as many of the ingredients as locally as possible." Thelma's philosophy is to support local farmers and craftsmen - the tea room already sells a range of groceries, frozen foods, condiments, snacks and gifts such as soaps, jewellery and glass wear.

While continuing with Thelma's roots in making ice cream, the family is now branching out and offering more services to their customers. The idea of bringing the community together, reducing food miles and buying local food easily has led Thaymar to start a home delivery service which is due to launch in July. With butchers, farms and grocers on board, customers can have their weekly shop delivered to their door and know they are supporting the community and businesses around them.

Thaymar also caters for outside events, such as weddings, and have an ice-cream cart which can be hired for private events such as parties or school functions. "I promised Martin I would keep his memory alive. Some of the happiest times we had were launching the ice-cream together so I wanted to develop the business for him."

Thaymar now make more than 35 speciality ice-creams, sorbets and frozen yoghurts. Flavours range from natural vanilla and strawberries and cream to Bramley apple and cinnamon or rhubarb crumble. There is also a 'just for adults' range including brandy and orange, Gaelic coffee and gin and tonic sorbet.
Written by Jane Paling for Nottinghamshire Living magazine



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