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Andy Swinscoe

BSc (Honours) Hospitality Business Management with Culinary Arts, Class of 2010

Andy is the owner of The Courtyard Dairy, a specialist award-winning cheese-shop and cheese-maturer.

What happened after I graduated

'I worked briefly for Britain’s oldest cheese-monger Paxton and Whitfield before winning an award for cheese maturing from the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust. That enabled me to complete an apprenticeship in the intricate art of affinage - ageing cheese - in France with Hervé Mons, who is widely regarded as the best affineur in the world.

'After returning to England to work for Bath’s Fine Cheese Company, where I was responsible for cheese quality and selecting cheese direct from farms, I decided to open my own specialist cheese shop and refiner: The Courtyard Dairy. We sell some of the finest cheese in Europe sourced from small farmers and artisans and since opening in 2012, we've won Cheesemonger of the Year at the World Cheese Awards and been runner up in the Best Food Retailer category at the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards.'

What my job involves

'The main aspect is the development of The Courtyard Dairy into being a profitable business that supplies cheese retail, mail order and wholesale throughout the UK.  I really enjoy the customer contact and being able to sell and champion real traditional cheese - it is nice to feel that you have created something and also support these traditional farmers.'

How Sheffield Hallam helped me

'Sheffield Hallam helped me become more confident and adept in what I can do as well as giving me the ability to believe in myself. It also gave me lots of technical and analytical skills and helped me develop my critical thinking, which is how I learned to take a step back from my current business and think about strategy rather than always the day-to-day running.

'Whilst I was studying I also felt that many of my lecturers were personable and took the time to get to know me and support my aims.  They were brilliant in being there to speak to and develop people's potential – bringing out the best in everyone and what they were good at. Even after I'd left, the Enterprise centre was brilliant in supporting the business and myself from the beginning with help, advice and good contacts.'

A word to the wise

'My advice to current students would be to believe in yourself and plan and research what you want to do. If you want to become self-employed it is important to know your industry first and get some real first-hand experience of it.  After that you just need to jump – you'll never find the perfect time or location but if you think about it, research your market and are clear about how you will make money then you can make it work.'

Future plans

'I've been asked to judge at the World Cheese Awards next year but in terms of my business, I'd like to grow the brand to increase turnover and profitability.  The long-term plan is to have further shops and increase the amount of cheese we sell mail order and wholesale to top restaurants in the area.  We would like to become a bastion for good cheese and be in a position where we can help support the farmhouse cheese industry and encourage it to grow.'

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