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03rd June, 2024

Charles Martell and Jim Chapman were given the Bath and West Society’s Special Award for their lifetime contributions to the cider and perry industry, whilst the Coopers Trophy for Craftsmanship in the Cider Industry went to Tom Oliver, one of Herefordshire’s best-known and most influential perry and cider producers.

Charles Martell started his collection of perry pear trees at Dymock in Gloucestershire in the 1990s.  The collection drew on rare and special varieties of perry pear trees from Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire, and by 1998, some 59 varieties had been rediscovered and planted at the Three Counties Showground near Malvern.

A year later, in 1999, Jim Chapman, a Gloucestershire solicitor who lives at Hartpury, planted a second collection.  He needed more space so he donated a 25 acre field and planted a third collection, which now forms the Hartpury Orchard Centre, home of the National Perry Pear Collection.

Paying tribute to Charles and Jim, the well-known cider author and poet, James Crowden, said: “It is no exaggeration to say that Charles and Jim brought craft perry-making in this country back from the dead.

“Had it not been for their efforts, dozens of precious perry pear tree varieties might have been lost for ever, and perry-making confined to a handful of farms, making perry for their own consumption.  Together with Tom Oliver, and everything he has done for the end product, they have brought one of the great drinks of England back to vigorous life.”

Tom Oliver, who won the  Coopers Trophy for Craftsmanship, has won an international reputation for the ciders and perries he makes at Moor House Farm near Hereford.

“Tom Oliver is the ultimate cider and perry craftsman”, said Anthony Gibson, the past Chairman of the Orchards and Cider Exhibition at the show.

“He not only sets standards of excellence in cider-making, he makes it his business to spread the word about cider and perry using 100% pure juice and natural yeasts, not only across Britain but internationally as well.

“It is particularly appropriate that he should have won the Coopers award, as he is a prolific advocate and user of barrels for fermenting and ageing his ciders and perries, using some 120 200 litre oak barrels.  He prizes the way in which the barrels allow maturing cider and perry to breathe, as well as adding their own distinct flavours to the finished product.”

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