DORSET cheese makers are the cream of the crop. The county's independent producers came away with a haul of prizes at the British Cheese Awards.

Scooping a major category award for Best Traditional British Cheese was Denhay Farms at Broadoak near Bridport for its mature farmhouse cheddar.

Managing director George Streatfeild said: "We're dead chuffed.

"We were up against the producers of British traditional cheese so it's great to come away with this trophy.

"Every credit to the people who make our cheese."

Denhay Farms also won a gold medal for its mature traditional and a silver medal for its Dorset Drum cheddar. The company, which also produces dry cured bacon, uses its own cows to make the cheese. Mr Streatfeild described the British Cheese Awards as the cheese makers' equivalent of the Oscars so is particularly pleased with the company's success.

Established in 1994, the awards are designed to raise the profile of British cheese by creating a recognised symbol of excellence.

More than 860 cheeses from 175 makers entered this year's awards.

Woolsery Cheese, based in Up Sydling near Dorchester, is another Dorset producer celebrating today.

Owner Annette Lee submitted five cheeses and they all scooped a medal including a gold for the oak smoked.

Other Dorset cheese makers winning medals were Ashley Chase Estate at Litton Cheney near Dorchester, Cranborne Chase Cheese based at Ashmore near Shaftesbury, and Dorset Blue Vinny.