WorldSkills butchery challenge heads to Northern Ireland

The second heat of this year’s WorldSkills butchery challenge is taking place in Northern Ireland today. 

Today’s competition follows last month’s Welsh heat, which saw 16-year-old Hannah Blakey walk away with the most points. The six young butchers that receive the highest marks out of the Welsh, Northern Irish and English heats will qualify for the final, to be held at The Skills Show at the NEC Birmingham from 17-19 November.

Taking part in the Northern Irish heat, hosted by Southern Regional College in Newry are: 18-year-old Sam Canning from Forthill Farm Shop, Co Armagh; Dylan Gillespie, 20, of Clogher Valley Meats in Co Tyrone; James Gracey, also 20, from Quails of Dromore in Co Down; and Martin Naan, 26, from Kettyle Irish Foods in Co Fermanagh.

Gillespie is hoping that past competition experience will assist him going forward. “I’m feeling confident about it, it’ll be a lot of fun,” he said.

The young butcher made it through to the finals of last year’s competition, as well as competing in the Premier Young Butcher Competition, alongside Gracey, which took place in April.

“Last year was the first competition that I’ve ever done,” added Gillespie. “I won the heat and came third in Birmingham.”

Butchery is one of 60 skills to be featured in The Skills Show, the competitions are designed to enhance apprenticeships and training programmes as well as improving and driving skills in the industry.

In the same format as the Welsh heat, the Northern Irish challenge will consist of two parts – the first of which will see the butchers have 45 minutes to seam a topside of beef, with the second part demanding the competitors to produce a barbecue-themed display in one-and-a-half hours.

Judging the competition will be chief executive of The National Federation of Meat & Food Traders Roger Kelsey, and industry consultant Viv Harvey.

The competition is organised by Cambrian Training Company, supported by an Industry Steering Group and the exclusive media partner is Meat Trades Journal.

The England heat will take place on 5 July.

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