Midlands butchers win England heat of WorldSkills UK contest

Butchers from the West Midlands have won the England heat of the WorldSkills UK contest. 

John Brereton, 40, butchery manager at Ludlow Food Centre, and Matthew Parkes, 21-year-old assistant manager at Willenhall’s Walter Smith Fine Foods, have their sights set on sealing a place in the Butchery WorldSkills UK National Competition Final in November, following their triumph in the regional heats for England.

The WorldSkills UK National Skills Competitions are aimed at developing training programmes and apprenticeships, as well as nurturing skills within the industry. Butchery is just one of more than 60 trades featured in this year’s competition.

Hosted at Leeds City College, the England heat saw nine butchers battle it out in the hopes of advancing to the next round.

“It was a pretty tough competition and there was a lot of talent on display,” said Brereton. “Although I was pleased with my work, my heart was racing until they announced the heat result, and I was overjoyed to win.

“I hope that winning my heat is enough to qualify for the WorldSkills final, which looks like a huge and challenging event. It’s not just about competing, the competition gets you to think outside the box and become more creative.”

Meanwhile, Parkes was surprised at his success: “I was very happy to win the heat, because I was up against some very talented butchers. It means a lot to me. My employer prides itself on producing award-winning products and butchers and it was nice to see the other lads from the company doing well.

“I still think I could have done some things a bit better and, if I get through to the final, I know my manager will be pushing me more and more. I take pride in my work and feel like I could push myself to the absolute limit to win the competition.”

Brereton and Parkes now have to wait until next month to hear if they have advanced into the next round. In order to do so, they must be in the six top-scoring butchers from the combined Wales, Northern Ireland and England three heats. The finals will be held at The Skills Show at the NEC in Birmingham from 19-21 November.

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