I started in the meat industry early in my life, during holiday visits to my cousins, when I worked in my uncle's shop. With an insight into butchery, I then got a Saturday job in a butcher's shop. Deciding that I would like to work in the meat industry, I managed to get a place at Smithfield College, learning the technical side of the trade.
In 1989, after jobs in various sectors, I knew the time was right to have a go for myself. I found a butcher's shop in Axminster in East Devon, where the lease was available. The shop is in a rural market town five miles from the south coast. I felt there was a good chance that I could build the retail side of the business up and then be in a position to start supplying the local catering sector.
It has been hard work and lots of hours. Over the last 20 years, I have invested everything back into the business, opening my second shop just before foot-and-mouth hit. This was a scary time, but we pulled through. Now I have three shops, a bakery and an EC-licensed cutting plant.
Despite these troubled times, our ethos remains to supply top-quality local meat. People do have to eat, so we at least have some chance of a sale. This last year has been the most difficult ever, with the increase in price of all raw materials, rising expenses and the general economic climate.
However, if we do our job well, service our customers' needs, develop new interesting products, as well as market quality goods that the supermarkets find hard to match, I am sure there is a bright future for us all.