TWO Herefordshire apple growers have received special awards from a cider company for the quality of the fruit they produce.

Growers Will Whittall and James Skittery both supply the Somerset cidermaker, Thatchers, with bittersweet cider apples.

James has supplied Thatchers for more than 20 years and over that period has produced the Dabinett and Harry Masters varieties of apple.

Will, on the other hand, has only been supplying Thatchers for three seasons, and in that short time, has quickly become one of the cidermaker’s top quality growers.

He also supplies the Dabinett apple.

Richard Johnson, Thatchers chief cidermaker, who presented Will and James with their awards, said: “Both Will and James have embraced the Thatchers philosophy that the best cider starts in the orchard.

"Their dedication to quality has resulted in them supplying a consistently high level of top quality fruit to us, and as such we have been delighted to present them jointly with our Grower of the Year award for 2017.”

Thatchers has more than 500 acres of its own orchard in and around its cider mill at Myrtle Farm in Somerset, as well as a number of growers there and in other apple growing regions such as Herefordshire.

“Climate and soil – as well as the expertise of the grower – all play their part in producing top quality apples for cidermaking,” said Mr Johnson. “Herefordshire naturally has a different climate to Somerset, so we would expect to see different apple varieties thrive in each region. As a cidermaker we have our favourite apple varieties to suit our own style of ciders. We’re delighted that both James and Will share our commitment to producing the best possible fruit."