Trailblazer Lucy Rowlinson has set the bar impressively high for the newly restructured butchery apprenticeship by achieving the top grade.

Lucy, 19, who is among the first tranche of UK apprentices to complete the redesigned and employer focused FDQ Diploma in Professional Butchery Level 2, was not only awarded ‘Pass with Excellence’ but became the first female apprentice to receive this accolade.

Unsurprisingly she has also been awarded the title of ‘Butchery Apprentice of the Year’ by training partner Reaseheath College in Cheshire. Her employer, John Major of Grants Butchers, took Reaseheath’s ‘Small Employer of the Year’ award for his support in applying the new standards and for his enthusiasm in hosting employer visits to share best practice.

Lucy is aiming to be as successful as her great-grandfather, a talented butcher and shop owner, so the return to a focus on traditional knife skills and customer service alongside modern methods of butchery has served her well.

She says: “This apprenticeship has suited me because I’m very hands on and practical and I find it easier to learn on the job. I like to be able to see and feel everything in front of me and I’m good with words when talking about what I have learnt, which was useful in the End Point Assessment.

“I was a bit concerned at first because the programme was so new but my Reaseheath assessor Gary Evans, who’s a master butcher, was really supportive and guided me through the process. I feel that the programme has given me a chance to grow as a person, and I’ve learned how to form relationships with customers and colleagues.”

Apart from using her butchery skills, Lucy sets up the meat counter, serves customers at the busy shop and receives and checks orders from pubs, restaurants and cafes. She also carries out risk assessments at her workplace and cleans down the shop and work room to the highest hygiene standards.

Her employer, John Major, says: “We are extremely proud of Lucy on her huge achievement and the passion she shows for butchery. She has not only helped to raise standards in the industry but contributes to the growth and success of Grants Butchers.”

James Richardson, FDQ End Point Assessment Operations Manager, added: “It is great to see young female butchers coming through the training programme. It shows that the industry is diverse and that it offers opportunities for all.”