Gloucester Wheels Out Famous Cheese To Thank French Soldiers

French military personnel have been gifted a Double Gloucester cheese wheel to thank them for their work during the coronavirus crisis.

French soldiers serving in Gloucester on NATO duty have received a trademark cheese wheel in honour of their service during the coronavirus outbreak.

Ahead of ‘Bastille Day’, French national day, on 14 July, the city handed the 'Double Gloucester' to the troops deployed to the area as part of NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC).

In March, officers from the French Army (l'armée de Terre) were sent to London as specialist military planners.

Major Emmanuel of the armée de Terre was one of those trying to anticipate "different scenarios" and how each could see the Armed Forces called upon by the civilian authorities.

The cheese was presented to the French forces at Cooper’s Hill, which usually hosts the annual ‘cheese-rolling’ competition, in which participants chase a Double Gloucester downhill.

The French major had heard of the cheese, adding he looks forward to testing it with the rest of his contingent and comparing it to see "who wins".

The event also marked 10 years since NATO’s ARRC moved to the cathedral city from its former base in Germany.

Test tubes with COVID-19 coronavirus labels on
Members of NATO's ARRC contingent were called upon to assist with the UK coronavirus response in London in March (Picture: PA).

Earlier this month, Gloucester Cathedral marked American Independence Day by changing its bell chimes to play ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ in honour of US NATO soldiers also based there on ARRC duty. 

Recognising the French soldiers' role in bolstering COVID-19 defences, Councillor Kate Haigh, Mayor of Gloucester, 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.

"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."

Cover image: NATO Allied Rapid Reaction Corps.