A Roving Ambassador For Cheese

Peter Marsh:

Sometimes, doing a headstand works wonders, says Glyn Woolley. That is exactly what he did when tempers were running so high over a pay deal at the London milk depot where he was working in the 1970s that the delivery men threatened to strike. “I said: ‘If I stand on my head on the table, will you go back to work?'” He promptly upended himself and the milkmen were, it seems, impressed. “They went back to their milk rounds and came back the next day for a proper discussion in a much calmer atmosphere,” says Mr Woolley.

Today, in a cramped office in an industrial estate in Corsham, Wiltshire, Mr Woolley laughs as he recalls those events. During a lifetime in the dairy industry, he has had to be resourceful to become the owner-manager of Coombe Castle, a leading exporter of specialist UK cheeses , that sends products with names such as Stinking Bishop and Lord of the Hundreds as far afield as the US and Japan.

“I am a fighter and I don’t like to give up on anything even if it means a huge amount of effort,” he says. During the 2002 foot and mouth outbreak in the UK, for instance, that meant “days spent pestering” government officials, and getting the local MP to intervene so the company could sell cheeses from regions not affected by the disease.