Inspired by the memory of the late Jean Nowell, cidermaker of note and mentor to many, the Three Counties Cider & Perry Association has launched the Jean Nowell Bursaries.
Marking International Women’s Day, the TCCPA is sharing the opportunity beyond its traditional borders as well as highlighting the pivotal role Jean played in the craft cider revival.
As her son, Max Nowell, sculptor and himself a cidermaker at Steilhead Cider, said in his tribute at his mother’s funeral in late 2017, “She never stopped working for the good of the craft cider world as a whole.”
Aimed at providing opportunities for people to access a small amount of funding to further their progress and development in the world of craft cider, four bursaries worth up to £250 will be available each year for the next three years.
“Jean was a versatile and talented cider maker,” says Elizabeth Pimblett, director of the Museum of Cider, and co-chair of Cider Women. “In her memory, we hope the grant will allow cider makers to develop their skills in a way reflective of her spirit of encouragement and guidance.”
“There is a very positive atmosphere around the whole of the craft drinks sector, with real innovation happening across the UK,” says Richard Toft, development manager at Pershore College WCG. “A craft cider innovator, Jean also observed the traditions of our fabulous local products.”
Vision, drive and energy
Jean began making cider when she retired to Lyne Down Farm, Herefordshire, in 1984 and restored old equipment found there. She used traditional apple and pear varieties discovered in her orchards, saying “1500 gallons is worth making an effort to improve the quality and preserve the tradition of farmhouse cider… if small makers’ cider is decent it… keeps the big firms interested in promoting quality ciders.”
An early participant in The Big Apple festivals at the start in the late 1980s, Jean suggested the Big Apple host Cider & Perry Trials, and with the support of others, what became known as the Putley Trials were born in 1991. Out of this, two years later the Small Cidermakers Association was born, the forerunner to the current TCCPA.
“I hope that the bursaries can help to stimulate the producers of the future, and/or new product developments within the sector,” says Richard, who will be administering the awards on behalf of the TCCPA. “I am hoping to see creative ideas of where the bursaries can be used to seed-fund new ideas.”
Applications are invited twice a year from cidermakers within the UK, with the first deadline being 30 April 2020. While there are no age or experience limits, preference will be given to novice commercial cidermakers and projects where the bursary is being used to fund the applicant’s personal development.