Student chops her way to top of Welsh butchery contest

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A Ripon student has beaten off tough competition to win the Welsh heat of the esteemed WorldSkills Butchery Competition.

Hannah Blakey, 16, studies Level 2 Certificate for Proficiency in Meat and Poultry Industry Skills at Leeds City College. She competed against more experienced butchers - 19-year-old Peter Rushforth, who finished second and runners-up Liam Lewis, 28 and Peter Smith, 31.

She has practiced at college every week to prepare her entry for the competition, with guidance from her tutors.

There were two challenges in the heat - she firstly had to seam a full topside of beef in 45 minutes.

Hannah then had to prepare a barbeque display out of one whole chicken, a 500g piece of topside beef, a 1.5kg shoulder of lamb and 500g of boneless loin of pork in an hour-and-a-half.

Judge Roger Kelsey - national chairman of the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders (NFMFT) - commended Hannah.

“The competition is as much about good working practices and knife skills as it is about innovation and precision.”

“It was Hannah’s preparation, variety of products and meticulous attention to detail that gave her the edge in what turned out to be a closely fought competition.”

Hannah is pleased that her hard work and dedication to Butchery impressed the judges.

She said: “It has been really good to get the opportunity to demonstrate my skills on a wider scale in the hope that people can see my passion for this industry.

“Practicing for the competition was really hard work but very enjoyable and I got so much out of learning the different techniques whilst in college, that were needed for me to be successful.”

She hopes her achievements will inspire other young women to consider butchery as a career option.

Lecturer James Richardson is positive that Hannah’s story will encourage more young people to join this industry.

“Hannah has worked really hard to be ready for this competition; she has come into college for extra tuition and proved that she has the hunger and innovation needed for her to be successful within the meat industry.”

The competition will continue with heats in the Northern Irish and English category during June and July before the best six highest-scoring competitors across the whole of the three heats will go head to head in the final at the NEC in Birmingham from September 17-19.

Hannah will be showcasing her talents at The Great Yorkshire Show for Leeds City College on Wednesda July 13, re-creating some of her winning display and offering advice on a career in Butchery.