Industry veteran passes on

The meat industry is mourning the passing of a major figure from the trade.

William Joseph Parker, known to many in the trade as Bill, died following a short illness in Leicester on Friday 6 February, aged 68.

A leading member of the meat trade and a great supporter of the Worshipful Company of Butchers, Bill learnt the skills of his trade at the Blackpool College of Food and Technology, before joining the family firm W&J Parker at the age of 19.

Taking over the running of the business from his father Noel at just 24 years old, Bill built the business up, having identified an opportunity with the supermarket groups, particularly Sainsbury’s. Innovation was also key, and he helped to pioneer vacuum packing in the meat trade, as well as retail packed meats during the 1970s and ’80s.

Bill was best-known for founding the successful Randall Parker Food Group, along with business partner Ron Randall. Founded in the 1990s, the company went on to purchase Weddel Swift, HM Bennetts, Edward Hamer and AE Matthews, as well as acquiring the Blue Waters Hotel in Antigua.
Outside business, Bill was president of the Federation of Fresh Meat Wholesalers in 1989 and, having being clothed as liveryman in 1971, he took on the role of Master of the Worshipful Company of Butchers in 2003.

Paying tribute to his friend and colleague, Richard Cracknell, former chief executive of ABP, said: “I knew Bill for many years, most of them as a competitor! He was a man of great integrity, warmth and charm and he will be sorely missed.”

He is survived by his two children, Andrew, 43, and Clare, 41, along with five grandchildren, Caitlin, Megan, Emily, Eliza and Joseph.

A memorial service will be held on 26 February at 2.30pm at St Mary Magdalen Church, Brinsmead Road, Knighton, Leicester. The family has requested no flowers, although donations to the British Heart Foundation would be welcomed.

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