The wheel of cheese was presented to the French contingent serving with NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) for ‘Bastille Day’ on 14th July, French national day.
At the start of the coronavirus crisis in March, the French army (l'armée de Terre) officers deployed to London as part of a group of specialist military planners from the Gloucester-based NATO headquarters.
The cheese was offered by the City to thank the French for their assistance during the pandemic, as well as to acknowledge their 10-year presence in Gloucester as part of the U.K.-led Corps.
ON A ROLL
The Double Gloucester was presented at Cooper’s Hill, just outside Gloucester, the location of the world-famous ‘cheese-rolling’ competition where participants race down the steep hill to win a wheel of cheese. The handmade cheese was produced by Smart’s Farm in the Severn Vale who provide the cheeses for the annual event.
The Right Worshipful Mayor of Gloucester, Councillor Kate Haigh, said: "Gloucester City is very proud to be the home of NATO's Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, and on the occasion of 'Bastille Day' we are delighted to present our French troops with our most famous local product, an entire Double Gloucester cheese.
“I recommend that they eat it and not roll it down a hill as part of their celebrations.”
Speaking at Cooper’s Hill, Major Emmanuel of the French army who serves in the Corps’s headquarters said: “This year is definitely a special national day for me, because I am in the U.K. and because of COVID there is no big celebration.
But I'm really glad to be here and to receive the cheese which is a very nice gift from the British.
“I’ve heard about Double Gloucester, but I haven’t tried it yet. You know, France is a 400-cheese country, so I will try it with my French colleagues and compare it with French cheese. And maybe we will come back to you and say who wins!”
Councillor Kate Haigh continued: "The French have been based at Imjin Barracks for a decade as part of the 'ARRC', and we are very happy that they continue to make Gloucester their home. We are particularly thankful for the assistance they have given the British people during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
“I hope our shared friendship and support strengthens and sustains in the future.
"Merci beaucoup et bonne fête pour le quatorze juillet!"
Earlier this month, Gloucester Cathedral changed their bell chimes to play the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ in honour of American NATO soldiers based in the City. It is part of a series of events this year to mark a decade since NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps moved to Gloucester from its former base in Germany.