Two West Norfolk food companies chosen as ‘stars’ in new government initiative

NORTH NORFOLK FOOD FESTIVAL                          ''Jill (left) and Sally Francis of Burnham Norton based Norfolk Saffron offered visitors something different - Saffron-flavoured shortcake ENGANL00120120309084809
NORTH NORFOLK FOOD FESTIVAL ''Jill (left) and Sally Francis of Burnham Norton based Norfolk Saffron offered visitors something different - Saffron-flavoured shortcake ENGANL00120120309084809
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Representatives from two West Norfolk businesses were due to go to Downing Street today having been chosen from hundreds to attend the launch of a new Government initiative.

Dr Sally Francis, of Norfolk Saffron, which is based in Burnham Norton, and Patrick Saunders who with his family set up the Norfolk Sloe Company in Fakenham, were due to join Environment Secretary and South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss at the launch of 50 Food Stars.

The initiative is the first of its kind and is part of a wider Government drive to inspire entrepreneurs across the UK and boost the long-term economy.

The ‘stars’ have been chosen from hundreds of award-winning businesses and spent yesterday at Defra’s offices for the launch followed by an evening reception at Number 11 Downing Street.

The winners will receive continued support from the Food and Drink Federation and Cranfield University over the next year and will have access to a range of events and development opportunities to further expand their businesses.

Company founder Patrick Saunders said: “We are so proud to be chosen as one of the 50 Stars. This going to make a huge difference, helping us to develop our contacts, share ideas with others and grow the business.”

Patrick, who is a Norfolk trail officer, his wife, Sarah, who is a maths teacher at Springwood High School, and their children Leanne, 20, Nicola, 18, and William, 16, founded the business in 2012. Patrick said: “While Sarah and I both love our jobs and are committed to them, we also wanted to do something as a family.”

Leanne created the brand logo of the legendary Black Shuck, William prepared the company’s website and Nicola drew up a business plan. In 2014 the company was awarded the prestigious three gold stars by The Great Taste Awards for its Black Shuck Sloe Gin. It currently produces a range of high quality liqueurs and chocolate truffles.

Norfolk Saffron was also a winner of three gold stars in the 2014 Great Taste Awards for its King Harry orange and saffron liqueur.

Dr Francis set up the business in 2009 growing the world’s most expensive spice at her family’s smallholding in Burnham Norton.