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Pick of produce tempts Pickles at Parliament

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: February 08, 2013

By GARETH BUTTERFIELD

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THE Government’s Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, has tucked in to a sausage made on Ashbourne’s doorstep at an even in London.

The Conservative MP, famed for his healthy appetite, sampled the ‘Staffordshire Sizzler’, which is made by Denstone Hall Farm Shop, at a stand in the Houses of Parliament to showcase food and drink from around the country.

Staff from the farm shop took with them a range of their produce, including the award-winning sausage, home-cured bacon, and the shop’s own-label beer.

Rupert Evans, who has run Denstone Hall Farm Shop with his wife, Emma, for six years, said: “There was certainly a buzz around the room when Mr Pickles came in, he is a larger-than-life character and was very interested in what we were doing.

“Earlier in the week I’d read an article where he’d said even brushing past Shropshire Blue Cheese made him put on weight.

“I quickly reassured him that we didn’t have any blue cheese on our stand.

“He laughed, and then asked me all about the farm shop.

“He then wished me luck, shook my hand and moved on, although not without trying a Staffordshire Sizzler sausage before he left.”

The event took place in the Jubilee room, inside Westminster Hall on Wednesday last week and had been organised by Tamworth MP Christopher Pincher, along with Burton and Uttoxeter MP Andrew Griffiths and Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant.

It had been arranged to demonstrate the range and quality of locally produced food in Staffordshire to their parliamentary colleagues.

A succession of MPs and political figures visited over the course of the day, including Mr Pickles, John Bercow, the Speaker of the House, defence secretary Phillip Hammond and Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Mr Griffiths, Staffordshire Moorland MP Karen Bradley, Stoke North MP Joan Walley and Tristram Hunt, MP for Stoke Central, also attended the event, which Mr Evans said offered the county an excellent opportunity to fly the flag for Staffordshire fare.

He said: “All the producers in that room gave up their time for the good of the county which reinforces just how passionate we are about putting Staffordshire on the UK food map.

“It was tremendous to be able to show off our produce and talk directly to the country’s MPs about the great food scene that we have here, so we are very grateful for Mr Pincher for arranging the event.

“It would be great if more people came to Staffordshire to find out how good our locally produced food is.

“Offering good food has boosted the economies of counties such as Yorkshire, Devon and Norfolk – I believe the variety and quality of our food equals, if not rivals, theirs, so it was fantastic to have been given a platform from which to shout about it.”

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