The Wales heat of the Butchery WorldSkills UK National Competition was won by North Wales butcher Matthew Edwards on 17th May, 2015.
Matthew, 23, of Vaughan’s Family Butchers, Penyffordd, near Chester, proved a cut above three rivals in the closely contested heat hosted by Randall Parker Foods at Dolwen, Llanidloes on 17th May, 2015..
He and the other Welsh butchers now have a nervous wait until August, following the Northern Ireland heat at Southern Regional College, Newry on June 18 and the England heat at Leeds City College on July 9, to discover if they have made it into the final.
The six top scoring butchers from the combined heats will qualify for the final at The Skills Show, to be held at the NEC Birmingham from November 19 to 21.The Skills Show is the nation’s largest skills and careers event and helps to shape the future of the next generation.
“I was surprised to win the heat to be honest because the skill level was very high,” said Matthew, a
former Welsh Young Butcher champion who represented Great Britain in a European butchery contest in Switzerland last year. “To win a WorldSkills UK heat is amazing.
“Fingers crossed that I can now get into the final and hopefully progress and win that. Today was the best that my meat display has looked, so I was very happy with the way it went.
“The competition isn’t just about how the display however. The judges are looking at your knife skills, health and safety, cleanliness and waste.”
Matthew, who is working towards his apprenticeship, hopes to progress to Higher Apprenticeship in food manufacturing excellence to support his ambition of one day running the shop where he works. He thanked his employers, Steve and Helen Vaughan, for their constant support.
Runner up was Daniel John Allen-Raftery, 31, of Randall Parker, Llanidloes, third was Peter Rushforth, 19, of Swans Farm Shop, Mold and fourth was Dafydd Jenkings, 21, of Ken Davies Butchers, Crymych.
Daniel, who like Dafydd was making his competition debut, said he was delighted to finish runner up. “There were a couple of things that I forgot, but otherwise everything went well and I’m happy with second place,” he said.
The judges were meat industry consultant Viv Harvey and Cambrian Training Company’s head of curriculum for food manufacture Chris Jones.
Mr Harvey congratulated the four finalists on the high standard of their work. “It has been a very good competition and there were only 10 points between first and second places and just three points between third and fourth,” he said.
“We still have 28 other contestants to judge before we select the top six for the final, but hopefully at least one of you has done enough to go through to the final.”
Dale Williams, general manager of Randall Parker Foods’ Dolwen plant, was impressed by the butchery skills displayed. “It’s a breath of fresh air to see talented butchers so keen and dedicated to progress within this industry,” he said.
Award-winning, Welshpool-based training provider Cambrian Training Company has been appointed to organise the butchery competition on behalf of WorldSkills UK. The heats are sponsored by The National Federation of Meat and Food Traders, Institute of Meat and PBEX.
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.
Cambrian Training Company has brought together the main players in the meat industry to form a steering group to organise the new butchery competition.
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.
Having taken butchery apprentices to demonstrate their skills at the Skills Show every year since 2011, Cambrian Training Company was keen to add the vocation to the skills competition to raise the profile of skilful butchers across the UK.