Japanese ambassador set to attend World's Original Marmalade Awards and Festival near Penrith

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Jane Hasell-McCosh
Jane Hasell-McCosh

Marmalade jet setters are flying in from all over the world - to be part of an internationally-renowned, sticky celebration of this staple British preserve.

Experts and enthusiasts are due to arrive at Dalemain, near Penrith, for the return of the World's Original Marmalade Awards and Festival this weekend.

They are due to be greeted by a display of flags representing all their countries for the event, which has an added international focus for 2017.

Among more than 3,000 entries, as usual, some have come from all corners of the world, including Bhutan, Lebanon and Taiwan.

And festival organisers have invited His Excellency Koji Tsuruoka, the Ambassador of Japan to the United Kingdom, and his wife, Madame Tsuruoka, to present some of this year's awards.

Last year also saw the launched of the Australian Festival of Marmalade, held in Adelaide, in partnership with the Dalemain Awards.

"This year we decided it was going to be our big push for an international year," said founder Jane Hasell-McCosh.

"We have a lot of entries now coming from Japan, so we decided we wanted to invite the ambassador.

"It is the reflection of the countries that have taken part.

"There are about 30 different countries now involved.

"I think it's quite extraordinary because this is not about us doing some huge, expensive marketing campaign.

"We don't have the money and we're doing this for charity.

"This is something that is entirely viral. It's going through the internet and taking people's fancy."

It takes a staggering six weeks for a groups of tasters to get through all the entries, selecting which have come out on top.

Among the entries in the octogenarians' class was a group of women from the Hiroshima area who make marmalade for their home communities.

One of the new categories for 2017 is the gardeners' class, which saw contenders using their home-grown produce, such as blueberries and ancient varieties of English apple, in their carefully-crafted recipes.

Mrs McCosh said: "That resonates very much with my own love of the garden.

"They were using lovely herbs or rose petals and that felt very exciting because it's a new development within the categories.

"It was popular and it was lovely."

Final preparations have been taking place throughout the week.

Across the two-day event there will be about 500 different jars of marmalade for people to taste.

The gardens and house itself are open to the public on Saturday and Sunday.

Question times will be held for the dedicated marmalade makers and there will also be demonstrations.

On Sunday, a marmalade festival service led by the Reverend George Bush, of Saint Mary Le Bow in London, will take place at the Dacre Church at 9.30am.

Penrith Goes Orange, which has become a staple part of the festival, is bigger and better this year - and will see the town jam-packed with stalls, entertainment and events throughout the weekend.

Mrs McCosh added: "One of the five reasons we started this festival is because we wanted to make Cumbria somewhere that people wanted to come from all over the country.

"But what is incredibly exciting is it's not just people coming from all over the country, it's people coming from all over the world.

"We are an amazing county. We have tourism in a big way and its wonderful, and I think that we're rather good at it, that we can welcome people even in the colder months.

"It's a very exciting thing that is very definitely part of our whole community."

The World's Original Marmalade Awards raises money for hospices all over the world through its entries.

Closer to home, donations go to Hospice at Home, Carlisle and North Lakeland.

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