Congratulations to Local Food Britain member Priory Farm Food Hall whose butchery operations manager took double honours at the annual Institute of Meat (IoM) and Worshipful Company of Butchers awards which took place in London recently.
Based in the award-winning Nutfield-based food hall, Austin Howell was named Best Meat Apprentice Showing Real Management Potential before being crowned Champion Meat Apprentice of the Year at the Butchers Hall event.
Competing against apprentices from around the country 21-year-old Austin, a former Plumpton College student, began his career as a 16-year-old ‘Saturday boy’ at the farm shop, before joining the butchery as an apprentice.
Austin, who was presented with his award by HRH the Princess Royal, said: “It was amazing to win these awards – they recognised everything I have worked towards, and it felt really great.
“I have now been made Butchery Operations Manager, which was a massive opportunity for me. I have a lot of responsibility and I love my job. I would encourage more young people to look at butchery as a profession. You have to work hard but you learn so much and it is very rewarding.”
Priory Farm Food Hall head butcher Andy MacNeill said he was incredibly proud of Austin’s achievement and hoped it would spur on more youngsters to think about a career in butchery.
He said: “The meat industry has come back strong over the past few years but sadly there is a definite shortage of butchers. With the rise of supermarkets, in terms of skills, we have almost skipped a generation.
“The demand for locally-sourced produce has opened up the market - the challenge now is to find the butchers.”
Austin is looking forward to continuing his role at the Nutfield store to help local customers make informed decisions about the butchery’s many products.
“People are very keen to find out where their food comes from and at Priory Farm, not only can customers see us preparing the meat, but they can talk to us about where it comes from too. I think it is important to share all our knowledge with customers.”