Welsh Pork Butcher’s inaugural winner dedicates win to mother

The winner of the first Welsh Pork Butcher contest at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair has paid tribute to his late mother for his success. 

Clinton Roberts, owner of Ponty Butchers in Pontardawe, fought off competition from Welsh Young Butcher champion Peter Rushforth of Swans Farm Shop, Treuddynn, Mold, Tomos Hopkin from Gwyrhyd Mountain Meat, Rhiwfawr, Swansea, and Dave Lang from New Inn Butcher’s Shop, Newbridge-on-Wye.

“I dedicate this victory to my mam who died three weeks ago,” said Roberts. “She was my inspiration and was so proud of what we have achieved. I am sure she has been watching over me and smiling today.”

The finalists were given two hours to present an innovative and creative display from half a Welsh pig, utilising either modern or traditional methods to promote the product to consumers. Roberts received £130 for his efforts, with the runners-up, Hopkin and Rushforth, sharing £70.

Roberts, who won a string of competitions in the 1990s, said it was good to be back competing. “I hadn’t done a display competition since 1997, but this was too good an opportunity to turn down,” he explained. “I stuck to the criteria with a mixture of traditional and modern cuts.”

Each of the four finalists were tasked with choosing cuts from their half of the pig that would maximise saleability and product value, while the judges looked for new and creative ideas, cutting techniques, added value, display techniques, HACCP and personal hygiene and maximum yield from the carcases. The top three butchers were separated by only one-and-a-half points.

Chris Jones, one of the judges alongside Steve Morgans from Morgans Butchers praised the entries: “It was a really good competition and nice to see young and experienced butchers competing against each other. There was very little to choose between the top three.”

Welshpool-based Cambrian Training Company, a programme that delivers apprenticeships for butchers with funding from the Welsh Government and European Social Fund, ran the competition in conjunction with the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society.

Roberts added: “It was good to compete against the top young butchers to show that the old dog still has it. I think it’s fantastic that Cambrian Training Company is nurturing young butchers because there is such a lack of interest in the trade.”

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