Hunt’s Foodservice which began at ‘Blackmarsh Farm’ in 1912 has been based in Sherborne Dorset, delivering frozen, chilled and ambient produce across the South West ever since. In March 2020, the business sadly lost their Chairman, Mrs Sybil Evelyn Hunt. Reaching her 100th year, Sybil was actively involved in the family business, dedicating her life to Hunt’s Foodservice and the local community of Sherborne and still took a keen interest in the monthly board meetings which were held in her house in recent years. Sybil was passionate about Sherborne and her business and was a force for ‘good’ and as such left her house on the Bradford Road in her Will to local charities that were close to her heart.
Born in Sherborne in 1920, Sybil briefly lived in Oxford and Bicester during her time in the Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II. However, her life at Hunt’s began on her return where she was employed by Hunt’s Dairies making ice cream and where she met her soon-to-be husband, Michael Hunt, who later took over the business.
Michael was a man of great innovation and with Sybil by his side, they used diversification to take the business from strength to strength. They made the bold decision to sell the dairy in the 1970’s and invested in frozen delivery, hotels, garages, and cold stores across the South West. Their commitment to the community was always at the heart of their actions, and Sybil and Michael were warmly remembered for the Christmas parties they held for staff and their children in Digby Memorial Hall; a huge box of party hats still remains to this day.
Michael sadly passed away in 1988 but Sybil was committed to ensuring her husband’s legacy lived on. She became the Company Chairman and was actively involved in the business, often seen working on reception, she knew everyone who came in and out of the business.
In November 2019 Hunt’s Foodservice continued to diversify and opened the Hunt’s Supermarket on Digby Road. The purpose of the supermarket is to provide locally sourced produce to the residents of Sherborne and to support other local and independent businesses in the area. Richard Hunt, relative to Sybil and Michael, and now Chairman of Hunt’s Foodservice says, “Hunt’s Dairy started out as a small business in the town, serving the community. It’s like we have gone full circle and opening the supermarket is a way of honouring our family roots, where we can support the town once again in that personal way. It was a move which Sybil greatly supported.”
He continues “For the Hunt’s business, the family, and to the local community, Mrs Hunt was an influential figure. Leaving her house to charity in her Will shows just how much she cared for the community and is a great reflection of her kindness.” From humble beginnings from selling milk with a horse and cart, Hunt’s Foodservice can now sell upto £2.5 million pounds of food a week using 150 lorries to support hospitals, schools, pubs, coffee shops and independent retailers. Employing 500 people across numerous sights it is also one of the towns biggest employers.
To honour her achievements to those she supported over the years, Hunt’s Foodservice have a dedicated lorry with her very own personalised number plate, SEH15, which will continue to drive around the streets of Sherborne, serving the community in her memory.