Two talented butchery apprentices trained by Reaseheath College in Nantwich have qualified for the national finals of the WorldSkills UK Butchery competition.

Jason Edwards and Elizabeth James will contest the finals at WorldSkills UK LIVE, the nation’s largest skills and careers event, at the NEC Birmingham in November. They earned their places after impressing judges at the regional Midlands heat, hosted by Reaseheath College in its industry standard Food Centre.

Butchery is one of more than 60 skills to feature in WorldSkills UK LIVE. The competitions are designed by industry experts and focus on the highest UK and international standards.

The young butchers must demonstrate a wide range of skills, with judges looking for innovation, creativity, precision, presentation, work ethic and a structured method and approach to the tasks along with safe and hygienic working practice. The finalists must complete five tasks over two days in front of a live audience.

Jason, 25, a butcher at The Hollies Farm Shop, Lower Stretton, and Elizabeth, 17, who works for her family’s business W. James Butchers, Stoke-on-Trent, are both studying for their FDQ Diploma in Professional Butchery Level 2 at Reaseheath while continuing to gain experience in paid employment.

Jason has worked at The Hollies Farm Shop for less than two years, has almost completed his Level 2 apprenticeship and hopes to progress to a Level 3 apprenticeship.

He said: “This is the first time I’ve done a competition like this. It’s been a good learning experience and I’m looking forward to the final. Butchery is a great career for young people, particularly if you like being active and creating things with your hands.”

Elizabeth is a fifth generation butcher who has grown up in the industry and works alongside her father and other relatives. She began her apprenticeship a year ago and has appreciated the support of Reaseheath’s experts on the more technical aspects of her trade.

She said: “I was surprised to get selected but I’m really excited and very much looking forward to the final. Just qualifying is a big achievement.”

Three other Reaseheath trained butchery apprentices also contested the regional heat. They were Emma Robinson (Grants Butchers, Crewe), David Brindley (Oxtail and Trotter, Audlem) and Kyle Owen (Buttercup Farm, Market Drayton).

Liam Lewis, 31, a butcher at The Hollies Farm Shop, Little Budworth, Stefan Rice, 35, who works for A. Hindle and Son, Stafford, and Craig Holly, 30, from Chris Hayman Butchers, Caerphilly, also qualified  for the national final from the heat hosted by Reaseheath.

The WorldSkills UK Butchery competition is organised by award-winning training provider Cambrian Training Company and supported by an Industry Steering Group. Sponsors are the Food and Drink Education Training Council, the Institute of Meat, Hybu Cig Cymru / Meat Promotion Wales, the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders and the Worshipful Company of Butchers.

Cambrian Training Company’s Marketing Manager Katy Godsell emphasised “It’s important that butchery is represented as a skill at WorldSkills UK because it’s a real craft that needs to be benchmarked and promoted. Its inclusion as a Worldskills competition for the fifth time is a great way to raise the industry’s standards and profile across the UK.

“The facilities at Reaseheath were second to none and we received outstanding support from college staff. We pride ourselves on the delivery of an industry led competition and Reaseheath’s support ensured that this year’s Midlands heat was a fantastic experience for all taking part.”

Catch the action at WorldSkills UK Butchery heat at Reaseheath College

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