AN award-winning cheese maker has been found dead in a neighbour’s garden the day after a night out with family members.

Mandy Reed, 47, was the director of The Swaledale Cheese Company, based in Richmond, North Yorkshire, and lived in nearby Scorton with her daughter, Louise.

Mrs Reed was discovered in the garden of the property next to her own in Grammar School Court at 5pm on Sunday after police were alerted to her disappearance at 4.35pm.

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The cause of her death was still unknown last night.

She was last seen by her son, Sam Reed, when she got into a red Skoda Octavia taxi after a night out on Saturday night and would have arrived home between 10.30pm and 11pm.

She was wearing black leggings, a red dress and a green coat when she was dropped off at home alone.

She ran The Swaledale Cheese Company with her husband, David, since 1987 until his sudden death in 2005 following a heart attack, when she continued as sole managing director.

The company has won a host of awards, most recently a “super gold” for its Swaledale Blue cheese at the World Cheese Awards 2011.

Detective Chief Inspector Keith Ruff said: “An initial post-mortem examination has been completed and the death is currently being treated as unexplained. Officers are carrying out a search of the area and conducting inquiries to establish the circumstances and cause of death.”