Rivington Chocolates - an unusual combination in Horwich
PUBLISHED: 00:00 12 October 2017
What do you get if you cross a building surveyor and a nurse? Some of the best chocolates in Lancashire, as Emma Mayoh discovered.
Christine Thomasson and Chris Dale don’t have what you’d consider traditional backgrounds for a career as chocolatiers. But for the couple, who live in Horwich, being a nurse and quantity building surveyor have been the perfect ingredients for their business, Rivington Chocolates.
‘It has given me a good eye for detail,’ said Christine. ‘I was a nurse and midwife while living out in Saudi Arabia for a while and I still work two long days on a health line now in Salford and it’s surprising what skills help me with the chocolates. It’s so interesting and I love it.
‘Being in Saudi really did make me miss home, though. It sounds strange but seeing the patches of green and the rain over Manchester after coming from the desert was one of the best things to see.’
It was while Chris and Christine were out walking – one of their favourite hobbies – that they struck upon the idea of a chocolate business. Talking about what they would love to do if they had their own business, making chocolates came out on top. Christine has always made the sweet treats for friends and family as well as making them for her own pleasure. But after a course at Slattery’s in Whitefield and lots of practice and teaching themselves new techniques, Rivington Chocolates was launched at the start of 2015.
‘It was a bit scary but so exciting to launch the business,’ said Christine, who has also worked as a jewellery maker. ‘It’s fantastic to do something we both adore.
‘I just love the smell of it all. And when you come to turn them out of the mould and they look great, that is wonderful for me. And when people come up and say they would like more of our chocolates. It’s incredible. It really does make it a pleasure to be doing it.’
Christine and Chris use the finest sustainable ingredients to create their luxury handmade chocolates as well as bespoke recipes created and made in their own kitchen at home in Horwich. All their chocolates – which come in flavours including dark chocolate lemon curd truffles, honeycomb dipped in milk or dark chocolate and edible chocolate bowls – are made fresh to order. They sell online as well as at various farmers’ markets and large food events including Bolton Food and Drink Festival and they have been awarded accolades, including a Great Taste Award.
Ingredients, where possible, come from nearby, including Williams Butter and Bank Top Brewery beer, both in Bolton, and well as preserves from Gribbin and Bear in Adlington.
‘It’s quite important to us to have that relationship and connection with other local producers,’ said Christine. ‘And creating food using each others’ products gives customers something very different to something they can pick off a shelf in a supermarket.
‘We don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. And we’ll do everything we can to make sure it stays that way.’
Being a small scale independent producer is something the pair are rightly proud of. They hope, in the future, to set up a co-operative shop to give them, and other local independent businesses, a shop front
‘Our USP is that we’re local. It’s something we’re very proud of,’ said Christine, who named the business after her love of Rivington Pike, a landmark she can see from her home. ‘But it would also be a great way of small producers like ourselves getting their names out there more as well as sharing the labour. It can be demanding, trying to be at all the different food events. With a shop, we can all take it in turn.
‘It’s a really exciting idea and one we’re really keen to realise. There are a few producers we’ve spoken to who are keen so the next step is looking for premises. We’re not interested in rushing or producing chocolates on a massive scale. We want it to happen organically. But we are determined to do it.’