Jay Cooledge has been appointed as Head of the Stockyard in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

His appointment comes at an exciting time for the unique food and drink destination in the Rural Capital of Food after news that it will be receiving Levelling Up Funding from the Government.

The funding will support development of additional food production units and events space at the Stockyard in the town’s Cattle Market – building on its reputation as a site for food and drink producers to manufacture and sell their artisan products and a visitor destination for food and drink lovers.

Jay, a former East Midlands Entrepreneur of the year (2016), has a wealth of experience in the food and drink and hospitality sectors, having helped to build up and run The Griffin Inn and the Old Stables in Swithland in Leicestershire as a family business. More recently he was marketing, sales and events manager in Dickinson and Morris’ Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe in Melton.

Jay and his team will be responsible for bringing new tenants, stallholders and events to the Stockyard, driving visitor numbers and delivering the levelling up development.

Hugh Brown, CEO of Gillstream Markets Ltd, which operates the site said: “We are delighted to have Jay on board. He has an extensive background in catering and hospitality and shares our vision of delivering a regional destination in Melton Mowbray.”

The Stockyard, located in the old livestock market sheds, provides a unique space for food and drink producers to manufacture and sell their wares in the heart of the Rural Capital of Food. It hosts a number of food and drink festivals through the years attracting thousands of visitors from all over the country.

It is already home to a number of artisan producers and retailers including the multi award-winning Round Corner Brewing, Melton Premium Craft Distillers, along with butchers, bakers and pork pie makers. Smoked food specialist Feast and the Furious is also about to open.

The Levelling Up Funding will support the creation of a Hub at the Stockyard to provide an area for food production, education and support services for small or upcoming producers, networking opportunities for local producers and a café for visitors. In addition, under-used, dilapidated buildings and sheds will be converted into smaller food production units for local food and drink businesses, where production activity can be part of the visitor experience.

Jay said: “I am very pleased to be joining the Stockyard at such an exciting time and look forward to helping to deliver these inspiring plans which will benefit the whole town and attract more visitors to the area, boosting the local economy.

“I’m from both a small business background and a catering and hospitality background, and I am passionate about supporting and incubating entrepreneurs working in this sector. This is perfect timing for us to lay the foundations and be ready as a shining beacon when the economy picks up.”

The Stockyard, working in conjunction with Melton Borough Council, is part of the wider Food Enterprise Centre in the borough, building on the rich food heritage of the local area. Melton Mowbray is the home of the pork pie and Stilton cheese. And for hundreds of years, Melton Mowbray Market in its various guises has played a key role in the ‘farm to fork’ story.

Today it has markets on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, plus many special events and festivals.

To find out more about the Stockyard, visit www.stkyard.co.uk

Perfect 10 PR is a Nottingham-based PR agency specialising in foodservice and construction public relations.