Cheese firm boss died in snow after 21st party

Mandy Reed ran the Swaledale Cheese Company in Richmond
Mandy Reed ran the Swaledale Cheese Company in Richmond

AN AWARD-WINNING cheese maker died when she fell in the snow just yards from her front door after celebrating her son’s 21st birthday, an inquest has heard.

Mandy Reed’s body was discovered in freezing conditions near her home in the village of Scorton in North Yorkshire after a night out in Richmond celebrating her son’s birthday.

A post-mortem examination revealed mother-of-two Mrs Reed, 47, died of a combination of acute alcohol intoxication and exposure to cold.

Her son, Sam, told the inquest into her death his mother – who was the managing director of the Swaledale Cheese Company – had been out drinking with him and his friends in Richmond the night before she was found dead. He had escorted his mother to a taxi after she had appeared tired and asked her to telephone him when she arrived home – but he never received the call.

She was found dead in a neighbour’s garden on the afternoon of Sunday, February 5. The death was the second tragedy to hit the family after Mrs Reed’s husband, David, died in July 2005 from a heart attack at the age of just 46.

The couple founded the successful cheese-making company, which is based in Richmond, 25 years ago.

The original plans for the birthday celebrations were to go to a dog track in Sunderland but the decision was made to stay closer to home as it had been snowing most of the afternoon. The group had a few drinks in a pub in Richmond before going for an Indian meal nearby. They then returned to the pub and carried on drinking.

Mrs Reed had been in good spirits throughout the evening and took part in a snowball fight with her son and his friends. But the inquest in Richmond heard that Mrs Reed decided to head home at about 10pm.

The taxi driver, Richard Bateman, told the court he stopped three times on the way back to Scorton so Mrs Reed could get some air as she was groaning and seemed ill.

When they arrived in the village, he described helping Mrs Reed out of the taxi and her not paying the fare.

Mr Reed stayed at a friend’s house and returned home the next afternoon to find his mother was not there. After calling some of Mrs Reed’s friends and his sister, Louise, he still could not find his mother and contacted the police.

When they arrived in the village they went into a neighbour’s garden while looking for Mrs Reed’s home and found Mrs Reed’s body lying near a shrubbery.

Dr Peter Cooper, who carried out the post-mortem examination, said she died of a combination of acute alcohol intoxication and exposure to cold.

Her blood contained 370 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres – four and a half times the legal driving limit. The inquest heard it was a level that would correspond to a “severe level of intoxication often leading to death, either from choking on vomit or respiratory degradation”.

Coroner Robert Turnbull said: “My deepest condolences go out to the family. She was obviously a very lovely lady.”

The coroner recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.