Tyrone butcher wins a bronze medal in WorldSkills UK final

Dylan Gillespie in action in the final.
Dylan Gillespie in action in the final.

A young butcher from Tyrone was awarded a bronze medal in the Butchery WorldSkills UK National Competition – in his debut competition.

Dylan Gillespie, 20, from Clogher Valley Meats, Clogher, finished joint third after two days of tough competition at The Skills Show, held at the NEC Birmingham.

He was one of the six top scoring butchers from the combined heats in Wales, Northern Ireland and England who qualified for the closely contested final. They were all challenged to complete five tests: ready to eat products, sausage making, barbecue products, kitchen ready products and a boning and theme butchery display.

Following the competition, the butchers gave a demonstration on Saturday at the show, the nation’s largest skills and careers event which helps to shape the future of the next generation.

It was the first time that butchery had been included as a WorldSkills UK competition. Organised by award-winning, Welshpool-based training provider Cambrian Training Company on behalf of WorldSkills UK, the competition began with regional heats sponsored by The National Federation of Meat and Food Traders, Institute of Meat and BPEX.

Dylan, who qualified for the final by winning the Northern Ireland heat this summer, said he had really enjoyed the competition and was happy to win a bronze medal.

Having practiced hard for the final, working seven days week, he said he was looking forward to entering the competition again next year.

Dylan, who comes from a farming family in Ballygawley, said he enjoyed watching butchers at work, which encouraged him to seek a career in the industry.

The competition was won by former Wales Young Butcher champion Matthew Edwards, 23, who works for Vaughan’s Family Butchers, Penyffordd, near Chester who was six points ahead of silver medallist John Brereton, 41, butchery manager at the award-winning Ludlow Food Centre in Ludlow.

A further three points back in joint bronze medal position were Dylan and defending Wales Young Butcher champion Peter Rushforth, 20, of Swans Farm Shop, Mold.

The other two finalists were Daniel John Allen-Raftery, 31, a butcher and slaughterman from Randall Parker, Llanidloes and Matthew Parkes, 21, who lives in in Willenhall and is assistant manager for Walter Smith Fine Foods shop at Melbicks Garden Centre, Coleshill. Just 12 points separated all the butchers.

Arwyn Watkins, Cambrian Training Company’s managing director, congratulated Dylan and the other finalists. “The competition was a fantastic showcase for butchery skills and we were delighted with the excellent standard achieved by the finalists,” he said.

“It was clear that the finalists had done a lot of training in their businesses since the regional heats and Dylan should feel very proud that he achieved a bronze medal in his first competition.

“The reason Cambrian Training Company gets involved in skills competitions is to develop a benchmark not only for competitors but also for trainers. This year we have set the bar and hopefully we will see it raised in the future.”

He said the company’s ultimate aim was to get butchery, one of world’s oldest skills, featured as a WorldSkills competition

WorldSkills UK National Skills Competitions are designed to enhance apprenticeship and training programmes and improve and drive skills in the industry. Butchery was one of more than 60 skills to feature in this year’s competitions.

Cambrian Training Company brought together the main players in the meat industry to form a steering group to organise the butchery competition.

Partners included Pearsons, Scottish Federation of Meat Traders, The National Federation of Meat & Food Traders, Institute of Meat, Eblex, Dunbia Ltd, Castell Howell Foods, Leeds City College, Improve - The National Skills Academy for Food & Drink, Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales, Randall Parker Foods and meat industry consultant Viv Harvey.