Yorkshire Dama Cheese is a story of inspirational bravery by a woman who refused to let her circumstances define or constrain her. It is about finding a new place to call home and new experiences which has lead to the creation of a British multi-award winning cheese and dairy company.
Here Razan Alsous, the Founder of Yorkshire Dama Cheese, tells her personal story:
“We came to the UK after the war in Syria in 2012. With my husband and three young children, we had lost almost everything and had to settle into a new life in Yorkshire. Initially I began searching for a job but despite having a pharmacy degree and a scientific background my lack of references and work history in the UK made it extremely difficult.
After some time I started to look at other options. I have three children and wanted so badly to build a bright future for them. So I started to think what was around me – the expertise I could tap into, the sources of support and other opportunities available to me. I came up with the following:
• I have a strong microbiological background, having graduated from the Medical Institute in Syria.
• My Husband is an electronic engineer who ran his own business supplying the pharmaceutical and food industries in Syria with Quality Control labs.
• I was now living in Yorkshire where the wonderful, high quality milk is available locally (and I believe is it is a national value)
• The government is very supportive for the creation of start up business.
• Nowadays the Syrian cheese (a squeaky semi hard cheese) that I know and ate every day for breakfast in Syria is very trendy in the UK and British people love eating it!
As I couldn’t find a great tasting quality squeaky cheese anywhere in the supermarkets or local independent farm shops I then had a brainwave: why not create a business and make myself Syrian cheese from fresh high quality British milk!
And so started our journey- with an idea and a start up loan of just £2500 from the local Enterprise Agency. We had to adapt the equipment we bought and then finally got the approval to start manufacturing cheese in June 2014. After just four months of production we won the the WORLD CHEESE AWARD Bronze Prize 2014/15, highlighting the true quality of our cheese.
This has since been followed by a large number of other awards and recognition including:
• Selected 6th as Yorkshire Entrepreneur of the Year 2014
• Nominated by the Prime Minster for International Womens’ Day 2015
• Short listed best cheese in Yorkshire DY award 2015
• Yorkshire Dama Cheese Short listed Best New Business in Yorkshire 2015 DY Award
• Short listed for the British Muslim award 2016
• Won The World cheese Award GOLD prize 2016/17
• Appeared in Celebrity chef James Martin’s TV programme Home Comforts January 2016
• Won The British Cheese Award Silver prize 2016
• Chilli variety Best cheese in Yorkshire 2016
• Nominated for Women of the Year in London 2016
- Early 2017 we have moved to a new premises to expand our business and we've been honored to open our new factory with presence of HRH The Princess Royal on 24 Jan 2017
- Awards winning in Royal Highland show 2017 : - Silver for the Smoked Squeaky Cheese / Chilli Squeaky Cheese
- Bronze for the Rosemary Squeaky Cheese and the Original
- Awards winning at Great Yorkshire Show 2017: - Gold for the Spreadable Yogurt "Labneh"
- Bronze for the Original Squeaky Cheese
- Ambassador for the start up Loan 2017 - 2018
- World Cheese award BRONZE 2017-18 for our Matured Yogurt Balls
At present the business continues to prosper. We have re-branded our cheese products as "Yorkshire Squeaky Cheese" to highlight our new home's amazing fresh milk and we have recently added two new varieties; rosemary and oak-smoked in 2017.
I am hugely thankful to our growing loyal customer base who have made this all possible. I could never have imagined the successes to date.
I thank you all for your support and in sharing my vision to make Yorkshire Dama Cheese and our cheeses the preferred choice for those who love great quality and local produce.
I am so happy that Yorkshire has welcomed me so warmly and I am so excited about the future for my family and my business.
Lots of love,
So happy to be in Yorkshire and providing 'local folk' with delicious cheese!