A young butcher from Tyrone will be testing his skills against the very best in the business when he represents Northern Ireland in the Butchery WorldSkills UK National Competition final later this week.
The six top scoring butchers from the combined heats in Wales, Northern Ireland and England go head to head in the final at The Skills Show, held at the NEC Birmingham, on Thursday and Friday this week.
“It will be a great experience and I will be doing my best to win.”Dylan Gillespie
Following the competition, the butchers will give a demonstration at the show on Saturday as they wait for result at an evening presentation event. The Skills Show is the nation’s largest skills and careers event and helps to shape the future of the next generation.
Representing Northern Ireland is Dylan Gillespie, 20, form Clogher Valley Meats, Clogher, Co Tyrone, who won the Northern Ireland heat at Southern Regional College, Newry.
Carrying Wales’ hopes are Matthew Edwards, 23, of Vaughan’s Family Butchers, Penyffordd, near Chester, Daniel John Allen-Raftery, 31, a butcher and slaughterman of Randall Parker, Llanidloes and Peter Rushforth, 20, of Swans Farm Shop, Mold. They all impressed at the Wales heat hosted by Randall Parker Foods at Dolwen, Llanidloes.
Representing England, after qualifying from heats held in Leeds, are John Brereton, 41, butchery manager at the award-winning Ludlow Food Centre in Ludlow and Matthew Parkes, 21, who lives in in Willenhall and is assistant manager for Walter Smith Fine Foods shop at Melbicks Garden Centre, Coleshill.
The butchers will be given five tests to complete over two days, which will test their skills to the limit. The tests are: ready to eat products, sausage making, barbecue products, kitchen ready products and a boning and theme butchery display.
Gillespie, 20, has been busy practising since winning the Northern Ireland heat and is looking forward to the final.
“It will be a great experience and I will be doing my best to win,” he said.
“It’s only my second competition, so to win would be really good for me and also Clougher Valley Meats.”
Gillespie, 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.
Award-winning, Welshpool-based training provider Cambrian Training Company has organised the butchery competition on behalf of WorldSkills UK and the heats were sponsored by The National Federation of Meat and Food Traders, Institute of Meat and PBEX.
Cambrian Training Company has brought together the main players in the meat industry to form a steering group to organise the new butchery competition.
WorldSkills UK National Skills Competitions are designed to enhance apprenticeship and training programmes and improve and drive skills in the industry. Butchery is one of more than 60 skills to feature in this year’s competitions.
Arwyn Watkins, Cambrian Training Company’s managing director, said: “We are really proud to bring butchery to the Skills Show for the first time. This is the skills showcase for butchery and we hope to make this inaugural competition one of the main features at this year’s Skills Show so that there is continued support for future years for butchers.”
Partners include 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 Mr Harvey.