VETERAN cheesemaker Fred Taylor always knows how to find a whey.

So when it came to marking his impending 90th birthday and retirement he knew just what to do - make a special miniature piece of cheese for party guests.

Mr Taylor, who turns 90 on September 5, is to be honoured at a special get-together at the Gibbon Bridge Hotel at Chipping on September 10.

He donned his dairy whites again yesterday to make his gifts at Leagram Organic Dairy, also in Chipping, choosing Wensleydale, which he started out making back in 1941.

Two months or so ago he also made a batch of Double Gloucester, which he believes is underrated, to give to guests too. That takes longer to mature.

Mr Taylor, who lives in Salterforth, is described as a ‘living legend’ in the cheesemaking industry.

He helped Asda set up its cheesemongering department and also featured in an early commercial. He also advised Morrisons on which cheeses to stock and took charge of stock control.

Over the years he also witnessed the transformation of cheesemaking from farm dairies and small co-operatives to the large-scale dairies we know today.

Mr Taylor said: “I have really enjoyed it. I started out with a 50-gallon vat and that’s what I used today, so I’ve come full circle.

“Wensleydale isn’t actually my favourite - that’s farmhouse cheddar extra mature - but it’s special to me because that’s what I started with.”

Mr Taylor had to leave school at 14 and worked on a farm for six months, not really taking to the experience. He was then offered a job at a dairy in Dent, Yorkshire and has never lost his links to cheese since.

Asked to compare contemporary cheesemaking with that of his younger years, Mr Taylor says a good farmhouse cheese then would stand comparison with its modern equivalent, although he believes wrapping cheese in plastic does not help.

He said: “A lot of young people today will never taste a cheese as they used to be, but that’s life.” He added: “I’m happy and quite healthy. I’ve had a good life.”