The Yorkshire Dama Story
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 led 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 of 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 WORLD CHEESE AWARD Bronze Prize 2014/15, highlighting the true quality of our cheese.
Local to National Recognitions
Great Yorkshire Show 2017:
- Gold - Spreadable Yogurt "Labneh"
- Bronze - Original Squeaky Cheese
- Best Chilli Variety
Royal Highland show 2017:
- Silver - Smoked Squeaky Cheese
- Bronze - Rosemary Squeaky Cheese & Chilli Squeaky Cheese
- Silver Prize
World Cheese Awards 2017/18
- Bronze - Matured Yogurt Balls
- Selected 6th as Yorkshire Entrepreneur of the Year 2014
- Nominated by the Prime Minister for International Womens’ Day 2015
- Shortlisted Best Cheese in Yorkshire Deliciously Yorkshire Awards 2015
- Yorkshire Dama Cheese Shortlisted Best New Business in Yorkshire 2015 Deliciously Yorkshire Awards
- Shortlisted for the British Muslim Awards 2016
- Won The World cheese Award - Gold
- Appeared on the celebrity chef James Martin’s TV programme Home Comforts - January 2016
- Nominated for Women of the Year in London 2016
- I became an Ambassador for the Enterprise Agency Start-up Loan 2017/2018