CUMBRIAN produce won a ringing endorsement from the Prime Minister today at the hugely-successful launch of the first ever Cumbria Day in London.
More than 80 represent-atives from the tourism, food, drink, farming and nuclear industries met with David Cameron and the county’s six MPs at the Houses of Parliament for a major showcasing and networking event.
It saw the PM himself tuck into a range of local produce, telling delegates that his children loved Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding and revealing he swam in a Cumbrian lake every year, although discreetly not specifying which one.
A tweet from his official Twitter account, followed by over 230,000 people, said: "Just visited #cumbriaday at parliament to promote tourism in this beautiful area. Brings back happy memories of swimming in Ullswater."
The day was aimed at raising the profile of Cumbrian produce and making ministers aware of issues in the business community.
Highlights included the Cumbrian flag being hoisted outside Parliament and the county being name-checked by the Prime Minister from the despatch box during Prime Minister’s Questions.
Among the most mentioned items on Twitter, #CumbriaDay trended for a time as one of the most talked about subjects on the social networking site. The event was organised by Cumbria Tourism, its Taste Cumbria food team with support from all of Cumbria’s MPs.
Ian Stephens, of Cumbria Tourism, drove to London with policy head Richard Greenwood in a van brimming with Cumbrian produce and marketing materials to meet up with others.
Mr Stephens said: “The venue was packed with lords, ladies and MPs. “James Berresford, the head of VisitEngland, has said the Lake District and Cumbria is the creme de la creme of tourism. “The whole of Westminister is awash with fabulous food and drink.”
Lakes MP Tim Farron met with senior representatives from the ministries of Business Innovation and Skills, and UKTI. A new Associate Parliamentary Group for Cumbria Tourism, was also launched to bring together Cumbrian MPs and Lords.
Penrith and the Border MP, Rory Stewart said: “Cumbria Day is one of the most significant events in the calendar this year – raising Cumbria's profile in Westminster and setting the agenda for the months and years to come.”
Taste Cumbria says recent research showed that £429m was spent by visitors to Cumbria on food and drink in 2011 – the highest spend of any other tourism activity in the county.
Richard Leafe, head of the Lake District National Park, declared the event ‘fantastic,’ and English Lakes Hotels head Simon Berry said he was there to support the £2.2 billion tourism industry which employs 55,000.
Businesses in attendance included Hawkshead Brewery, More? Artisan, Coniston Brewery, Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding Company, Appleby Creamery and Grasmere Gingerbread, among others. Marie Whitehead MBE of Hawkshead Relish and Simon Rogan of L’Enclume, were also there.