CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to EADT Suffolk today CLICK HERE

We meet the woman behind The Lamb Charcuterie Company near Hundon

PUBLISHED: 11:38 13 March 2018 | UPDATED: 11:38 13 March 2018

Victoria Lea of Herdwick Charcuterie for Suffolk Magazine. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Victoria Lea of Herdwick Charcuterie for Suffolk Magazine. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Linda Duffin meets founder of The Lamb Charcuterie Company Vicki Lea, a Cheshire lass making an innovative business from her flock of hill sheep in the flatlands of Suffolk

Most animal lovers get themselves a cat or a dog, perhaps a horse if they have the space, or a gerbil if they don’t. Not Victoria Lea.

A childhood spent holidaying in the Lake District gave her an abiding love of Herdwick sheep and once she had finished her degree at Writtle College in Essex and got back from a year’s travelling, she bought her first flock of six.

“I like Herdwicks. I think they have friendly faces,” Vicki confides. Huddled on a freezing day by a rented field holding part of her flock, I give her truculent-looking ram the squint-eye, but I can see what she means.

They are handsome beasts and the ewes, at least, look placid.

Victoria Lea of Herdwick Charcuterie for Suffolk Magazine. Picture: GREGG BROWNVictoria Lea of Herdwick Charcuterie for Suffolk Magazine. Picture: GREGG BROWN

“I like their temperament and I like to try to keep that connection with Cumbria,” says Vicki, who originally came from Cheshire but now makes her home in Stoke-by-Clare.

“They are hill sheep and they do really well here. In fact, we’re trying to get some cull ewes down from the fell. You can get a few more years out of them down here because the environment is kinder.”

I pull my jacket tighter and try to stop my teeth chattering, but I can imagine that the soft, green fields of Suffolk are like a holiday camp for sheep used to the bleak winters of the Lake District.

Vicki is made of sterner stuff, which is just as well because she takes care of her flock, now 50-strong, on top of her day job as an IT specialist for the National Health Service.

Victoria Lea of Herdwick Charcuterie for Suffolk Magazine. Picture: GREGG BROWNVictoria Lea of Herdwick Charcuterie for Suffolk Magazine. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The 32-year-old is out in the fields, come rain or shine, at every spare moment and she doesn’t have too many of those. Her partner, Sam, who also works in farming, helps out, but most of the work she does single-handed.

“I work flexi-time with the NHS, four days of nine-and-a-half to 10 hours. I’m less busy with the sheep in winter but at lambing time, when I’m trimming [shearing], or moving them to new pastures, and with general husbandry, I don’t have much spare time.

“I do farmers’ markets most Saturdays and one Sunday, and I’m booked into a lot of food festivals this year,” she says. She really loves those sheep.

So much so, in fact, that she would like to turn them into a full-time job. But with no land of her own it is not easy to make that a paying proposition.

Victoria Lea of Herdwick Charcuterie for Suffolk Magazine. Picture: GREGG BROWNVictoria Lea of Herdwick Charcuterie for Suffolk Magazine. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Vicki has always sold lamb boxes of a half or whole sheep. She slaughters them as hoggets at between one and two years of age, and says she’s got good feedback in terms of quality and flavour.

“That was plodding along nicely but it wasn’t really going anywhere as such, we haven’t got the amount of grazing land that we need to keep the amount of sheep we need to turn it into a full-time business.

“So I was looking for something else to do with it. I wanted a stand¬alone business to support myself and was looking for ways to make the meat more profitable. In Europe they make charcuterie with these meats so I thought, why not?”

And so The Lamb Charcuterie Company was born.

Victoria Lea of Herdwick Charcuterie for Suffolk Magazine. Picture: GREGG BROWNVictoria Lea of Herdwick Charcuterie for Suffolk Magazine. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Vicki was introduced to Jackie and Sarah Kennedy, from Marsh Pig Charcuterie in Norfolk, who, in addition to their own range, make salami and other cured meats for clients.

“They advised me to come up with recipe combinations and I came up with our first four flavours, which I gave out to friends and family and got lots of feedback. Originally we had four salamis, then we did a very hot Habanero salami for Christmas and we’re working on new flavours this year.”

The current range of salamis is delicious – rosemary and garlic, smoked mint, fennel and orange, and cracked black pepper, all of which marry well with the lamb.

They are good as they are but Vicki cooks with them too, mixing her chorizo into Bolognese sauce and lasagne and serving the peppered salami with scallops.

“Eventually I’d like to take over making the charcuterie myself but I have already made a big investment to get to where I am now,” she says.

“We have a building in the garden we want to convert and we’re looking at various local grants to help us with that. We should be slicing and packaging at home from March and the next step will be processing it on site.” I believe her.

It’s clear this hardy northern lass has transplanted to Suffolk quite as successfully as her sheep.

__________________

Follow Suffolk Mag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other EADT Suffolk Magazine visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by EADT Suffolk Magazine staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique EADT Suffolk Magazine account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Food & Drink

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

If you’re stuck for ideas about where to get your Sunday roast fix this weekend, then give one of these 20 Suffolk pubs a try!

Read more
Friday, October 5, 2018

As we move towards Christmas Suffolk’s top pubs and restaurants are developing menus that perfectly complement the festive season. Here are 8 you should consider this winter

Read more
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Retired jockey Eva Moscrop is opening Cortado Espresso Bar on September 15th on Newmarket’s Exeter Road. The first 100 customers will also receive a free coffee!

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

We all love a good cup of coffee, whether it’s a latte, flat white or just plain black Suffolk is home to a multitude of wonderful local coffee shops. Here are 10 of our favourites with no chains in sight!

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Suffolk is home to some of the nation’s most beautiful waterways - the River Waveney, the River Deben and the River Stour all offer stunning scenery that captures the heart of locals and visitors alike. There is nothing better than enjoying dinner and a drink by the water, so here are some of the county’s prettiest riverside pubs…

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

As the colder weather starts to creep in, there isn’t a better place to spend a chilly evening than a cosy pub. We pick 15 of the best places in Suffolk where you can warm up next to the fire while trying a pint of local real ale

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Make a day of your trip to the garden centre with tea and cake. We pick six garden centres in Suffolk with cosy tea rooms to enjoy

Read more
Thursday, August 16, 2018

From pretty pub gardens to restaurants overlooking the ocean, Suffolk is a treasure-trove of wonderful places for al fresco dining. With that in mind we’ve picked nine of our favourite places to enjoy a meal in the sun

Read more
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Suffolk is home to some of the best cream teas in Britain – from country house hotels to chilled out coffee shops, we pick 9 places worth a visit

Read more
Wednesday, August 8, 2018

When you’re by the coast or out and about in Suffolk nothing beats traditional fish and chips. A large battered cod, crunchy fried chips with lots of salt and vinegar and of course a side of mushy peas and curry sauce. Here are 15 of our favourite places to try tasty fish and chips in Suffolk

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

EADT Suffolk Magazine regular newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search