Me and my shop

In 1959, when the shop and slaughterhouse were opened by my parents, little did they know that the initiatives they held dear - low food miles, traceability, animal welfare - would become the 'buzz words' of the 21st century.

For me it seemed the most natural thing to qualify as a Master Butcher, which I did as soon as I was able. I have continued to maintain and develop close relationships with local farmers and now source all my stock from within 15 miles of Raglan. I have a special interest in rare breeds and became the first butcher in Wales to hold the Rare Breeds Trust accreditation.

As a butcher, many things are key to your business: with the product it's presentation, quality and freshness; with your customers, you only have one chance to secure their business. In today's society people will not return to you and say that there was a problem with the meat as they used to do - they will simply shop elsewhere.

Time and long hours are still the enemy of the butcher and if you are an independent trader, then having the energy to look at your business after closing requires determination. I am now setting up an online shop, which I believe will allow people a greater access to my award-winning products. I have entered, and won, many national competitions and these awards mean people can feel safe with the quality offered.

There are now many celebrity chefs who promote certain standards and, by associating with their promotions I, too, am able to raise my profile.

Neil James NS James Family Butchers, Raglan, Monmouthshire

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