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UK: National Butchers Week March 14 - 20th

The “dying art” of traditional butchery is being kept alive at a Yorkshire farm shop with ancient skills being passed from old hands to young guns – a practice celebrated and endorsed by National Butchers Week (March 14-20).
The butchery at Hinchliffe Farm Shop, in Netherton, is training up young ‘apprentices’ in highly-skilled butchery techniques that most modern butchers and supermarkets have long since forgotten.
Twenty-year-old Craig Lodge, who started working at Hinchliffe’s in December, has learnt how to bone out pork for bacon, make sausages and cure meats, as well as give the top notch, personal service that Hinchliffe's customers have come to expect. While 21-year-old Patrick Hanna – who was originally taken on as a labourer and packer – proved he had such enthusiasm for butchery that he is now being trained to make the farm’s famous homemade pies and pasties.
“The independent butchers shop is a dying breed and with the average age of most butchers around 50 years, it’s essential we attract more young people into the industry,” says Hinchliffe’s head butcher Denzil Weavill  “Our lad Patrick never made a pie before he came here, but now he’s making up his own recipes, and Craig now knows how to hang and bone a carcass, break it down properly and display it correctly. Passing these traditional butchery skills down to the next generation is the only way these skills will survive.”
And Denzil himself, who started working at Hinchliffe’s 30 years ago at the age of 15, also learnt his skills from an old hand – octogenarian farmer and owner Charles Hinchliffe.
“Charlie was instrumental in teaching me about cattle, how to feel for the fat and hand -select the meat, as well as butchering it – everything really from hoof to hook,” says Denzil, who can boast to boning out a forequarter in five minutes flat! “At the supermarket it’s all ‘slices and dices’ with meat arriving in a big box and put out for display. But here, attention is paid to the type of grass the cattle eat and lots of love and care is involved in the feeding and handling. Charlie produces wonderful meat from our pedigree herd of South Devons – each one personally overseen by him – and that meat deserves the best treatment.”
Ed Bennington, editor of Meat Trades Journal, the organisers of Butchers Week – which aims to raise the profile of butchers as beacons of excellence for all things meat and as a potential career for young people – agrees: “The biggest threat facing the retail butchery trade today is the employment and training of new young butchers. It’s great to see businesses such as Hinchliffe’s encouraging new blood into the business and shouldering the responsibility of ensuring skills are maintained. Older butchers need to do everything they can to ensure their own experience, skills and knowledge are not lost.”
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14 March 2011
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