THE wife and husband behind a craft cider brand are hoping to raise £300,000 through crowdfunding so they can take their company to the next level.

Kathryn and Mark Hughes set up the The Big Bear Cider Mill at Tumblers Green farm, in Stisted, five years ago after initially planting trees so they could make cider for family and friends.

But word spread, demand began to outstrip supply and what was once a hobby turned into something which they have big plans for.

Mrs Hughes said: “What we want to do is become a real success story for the area.

“You look around and more or less all of the cider in this country is produced in the west country.

“Yes you have Aspall in Suffolk, but we really want to put Essex on the map in terms of cider.”

It means they have put plans in place to build a production facility which will allow them to press and blend one million litres of cider each year.

As part of the plan, Big Bear have a campaign with crowdfunding site Crowdcube which went live around two weeks ago and it has already hit 40 percent of its target.

Mrs Hughes said: “The craft beer company Brew Dog went down the route of crowdfunding and look at them now.

“They’ve also just bought a craft cider company so they certainly see some potential in it.

“The new facility will mean we can up production and we’ll also be able to have the cider in cans rather than just bags and kegs and that will really help us.”

The company also owns has a second orchard in Beazley End but the original site in Stisted sits on a former gravel pit.

Mrs Hughes explained: “Back when they built the A12 they used the orchards as pits to put concrete and whatever else in, so what we’ve done is reclaim the land and turn it into back into an orchard.”

The ciders produced by Big Bear are gluten-free and suitable for vegans. Visit for more information about the company and for a link to the crowdfunding page.