Turnbull’s Robert Darling, Young Butcher of the Year in Q Guild Butchers Awards

Butcher Robert Darling, who works at Turnbull’s of Alnwick, has been crowned Young Butcher of the Year in Q Guild Butchers 2020 Smithfield ‘Star’ Awards.

The 18-year-old becomes the inaugural winner of the coveted title, sponsored by the Institute of Meat, open to all aged under 24 and introduced for the first time this year to both recognise and reward the industry’s rising stars. Part of the brief was that nominees must have developed a product sold in the shop
Rob’s own product, which had first picked up a best in category Diamond award, was Pork Wellington, described as a twist on the traditional Wellington using a pork cannon, butterflied open and stuffed with chorizo and morcilla, with the pork rolled back up as a roulade. It is encased in puff pastry lightly brushed with seasoned oil. The up-and-coming young butcher even developed the cooking guidelines at home.
Judges were mightily impressed, describing Rob as a considerable asset to Turnbull’s. They noted: “This type of experience will prove invaluable as he progresses through his career, which is looking very bright. His attention to detail was evident in the Pork Wellington he produced. It was technically excellent and performed well when cooked. The judges really loved the taste and the added chorizo and morcilla. Well done.”
 Rob joined Turnbull’s as an apprentice butcher in May last year at a time of major expansion for the business, with its long-established family-run shop in Market Street recently supplemented by a brand-new custom-designed Northumbrian Food Hall on Willowburn Retail Park. There is also a standalone factory cutting plant, where all of the raw meat production takes place.
Owner Mark Turnbull, a former Q Guild Butchers national chairman, said: “In the short time Rob has been with us, the business has evolved arguably more than at any other point than in the previous 140 years we have been trading. He has met the changes superbly and with a terrific attitude.
“He has worked across all three of our sites and excelled at each. He is predominantly based at the cutting plant, where we are developing his knife skills, having him working on pork, lamb and beef whole carcasses. He has a great level of confidence and competence when he is set a task.
“Rob has also worked in both shops, setting counters, serving customers and preparing kitchen ready products. He shows great promise with his attention to detail and we were very pleased with his innovation for Young Butcher of the Year.
“We have tried the product in both shops and it has sold extremely well, and customers have provided some marvellous feedback. We are extremely pleased with how Rob has progressed since starting and we see a very bright future for a young man who takes a lot of pride and pleasure in his work -a real future star!”
Rob himself commented: “I am very pleased to have been asked to develop products, particularly for the Smithfield Star Awards, I feel that I have really settled into the job and that I have found a craft that I have a great deal of passion for.”
Sponsor, the Institute of Meat, will give Rob 1 year’s free membership, entitling him to join an important asset to the meat industry who’s aim is to help educate and promote young butchers. He also receives a Diamond Award framed certificate, a wooden ‘meat’ chopping board, steak knife and Q Guild apron.
For the first time this year, the revamped Smithfield ‘Star’ Awards had a brand-new star rating system through which 3***, 2** or 1* certificates were awarded to products achieving a set standard. Diamond awards are then achieved by pitching all the 3*** products against each other to find the ‘Category Champion’.
In fact, Turnbull’s Butchers achieved four product awards in total, including two further 3*** and a category finalist*. The other awards were:
Star Awards
Innovative Sausage
Northumbrian Venison Sausage*
Naked Steak
8oz Sirloin Steak
Traditional Sausage
Northumberland Sausage
From 220 individual products entered from 29 Q Guild butchers across the length and breadth of the country, a total of 73 achieved 3***, 52 2** and 44 1*, They were judged blind by an independent panel of food and meat sector experts headed up by Institute of Meat Chief Executive Keith Fisher
Butchers Q Guild General Manager Claire Holland said: “These awards are a great way of showcasing our members and their achievements. They work really hard to develop outstanding products and to keep up with consumer trends therefore to have it topped off with an industry judged accolade is the icing on the cake, for which they should be very proud.”
Lishman’s Butchers in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, were crowned the overall 2020 Smithfield ‘Star’ Awards supreme champion with their Chilli Cheese Dogs, first chosen as the best product in the Innovative Sausage category.
Smithfield ‘Star’ Award sponsors were Lucas Ingredients, Dalziel, Innovative Food Ingredients, British Charcuterie Live, Weddel Swift, Verstegen, Taste of Game, Scobie & Junor and Institute of Meat.
Home at last! IoM / WCB Annual Awards 2020

After five long years away, today the IoM and WCB recognised the achievements of some outstanding members of the meat industry back in their spiritual home, The Butchers Hall.

Over a hundred guests gathered in the dramatically refurbished Livery Hall to see apprentices, training providers and employers receive their awards, presented by Keith Fisher (F.Inst.M), Chief Executive of the Institute of Meat. Also presiding over the awards were Tim Dumenil, Master of The Worshipful Company of Butchers and Bill Jermey, Chairman of the Institute of Meat.

In total 11 category awards were given. The awards and winners were:


Best New Apprentice
Seymour Manufacturing International Ltd
Elliot Tong
Best Retail Butchery Apprentice
National Craft Butchers
Austin Howell
Best Independent Retailer Meat Apprentice
Paul Edkins Memorial Cup
Worshipful Company of Butchers
Jack Western
Best Multiple Retailer Butchery
Sealed Air Ltd
Harley English
Best Meat Processing
Oakfield (Foods) Ltd
Harry Pritchard
Best Abattoir Worker /
Kaspars Matis
Best Meat Apprentice Showing Real
Management Potential
Kenneth Jenkins Challenge Cup Worshipful Company of Butchers
Samuel Cooke
Lord Graham Endeavour
Meat Trades Journal
Christopher Sheardown
Best Company Training
Windsor Food Machinery
Cranswick Country Foods PLC
Best Meat Training Provider
of the Year
Worshipful Company
of Butchers
Shropshire Training Ltd
Champion Meat Apprentice
of the Year
Meat Management Magazine
Jack Weston


The category winners each received a cheque for £250, a framed certificate and a years free membership of the Institute of Meat.

The overall winner, ‘Champion Meat Apprentice of the Year’, Jack Weston, received a winner’s trophy and certificate, a year’s free membership of the IoM and an additional cash prize of £500.

Jack Weston being presented with winner’s trophy by The Master, Tim Dumenil

Following success at the IoM’s rigorous assessment, five experienced butchers were also awarded Institute of Meat accredited, ‘Master Butcher’ status. They join an elite club, whose membership today reached fifty nationwide. Receiving their accredited Master Butcher status were: Joseph Marshall (MB.Inst.M), Martin Frazer (MB.Inst.M), James Richardson (MB.Inst.M), Anthony Langton (MB.Inst.M) and Aodh McKenna (MB.Inst.M).

Lastly, industry consultant, Viv Harvey, currently Team GB’s coach for the World Butchers Challenge 2020, was announced as a Fellow of the Institute of Meat, in recognition of his dedication to the education and training of young butchers over the past 45 years.

Commenting on the day, Fisher said,

“All our apprentice award winners showed exceptional promise and they should be very proud of achieving their awards. I hope that they will look to the Master Butchers awarded today and be inspired to keep learning and aim high in their future careers. Now, perhaps more than ever, we welcome the boost of creativity and optimism that butchery apprentices like those awarded today bring to the meat industry.”

Award Winners and Master Butchers, 21st February 2020

For more information about the prize-giving, or how to nominate an apprentice please contact Sheryl Horne at the Institute of Meat, info@instituteofmeat.org

IoM Judging at Meat Management ‘Meat Industry Awards 2020’

Product judging, with IoM’s Keith Fisher as chief judge, for this year’s MM Meat Industry Awards has begun as many of the 1,000 products entered into this year’s competition began to arrive at The Regional Food Academy at Harper Adams University, despite the ongoing difficulties presented by Covid-19.

The judges and home economists are in for a busy few days as the products entered are evaluated based on the exacting criteria used every year.

Awards organiser Emma Cash added: “I’d like to thank everyone who has made that extra special effort to get their entries to the test kitchens. We’ve a way to go yet but I am looking forward to the Awards ceremony and dinner, which we have now rescheduled for 2nd September when the winners, finalists and highly commended products will be revealed.”


IoM’s Keith Fisher at Annual FMT Food Industry Awards 2020

The annual FMT Food Industry Awards recognise the hard work and excellence of food processors and manufacturers across the UK food sector as well as trade organisations, ingredients suppliers, machinery and equipment companies, packaging, product innovations, people and training.

The awards were presented at a prestigious luncheon and ceremony, which took place at the five star Royal Garden Hotel, London on Thursday 12th March 2020 and, for the first time, it was hosted by celebrity chef Michel Roux Jr. Many of the UK’s leading companies and retailers participate and key food industry movers and shakers come together at the Awards Ceremony to celebrate the best of the best.

Institute of Meat CEO Keith Fisher presenting the award for “Best Equipment / Machinery” at the Food Management Awards Today
International Young Butcher Competition

Report by National Craft Butchers

Team UK’s James Gracey returned yesterday having out performed other elite European young butchers from Austria, France, Germany, Holland and Switzerland, finishing in the top three in the Roast’s category of the finals of the International Young Butcher Competition last weekend at the IFFA exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany.

James from M A Quail in Dromore Northern Ireland was repeatedly praised by Judges for high standards of workmanship throughout the competition with accolades for his ‘County Down sweet Mincemeat Pie’ in the Ready to Eat, his Barbecue selection and ‘Craigavon Roast’ in the Main Course category. Finishing third with his ‘Dromore and Quail Mini Roasts’ James added to the UK’s continuing success outperforming ‘Europe’s Elite’ joining previous UK high performers Luke Haigh of Bolster Moor Farm Shop in 2012, Andrew Brassington from Ludlow Food Centre in 2013 and Lucy Crawshaw of Taylors Farm Shop in 2016 also finishing in the top three in the Ready to Eat, Stuffed Roast and ‘Surprise’ categories.

Team Manager and National Craft Butchers (NCB) Chief Executive Roger Kelsey said, “the competition with changes in Seam Butchery and tighter rules and constraints in use of materials this year has been the toughest to date. Both Lennon and James raised their game exceeding all expectations against the best that Europe has and has ever offered in the ten years that we‘ve been involved in the competition”!

Twenty-three-year old James and nineteen-year-old Lennon Callister from Owen Taylor in Alfreton, Derbyshire underwent months of preparation under instruction from UK Team Coach Viv Harvey and international CIBC UK jury member Keith Fisher to compete in one of the closest competitions in years.

Twelve finalists spent two days under pressure demonstrating skills for innovation, precision and methodology across six categories with strict time constraints in front of an international jury of expert judges. As well as thousands of visitors from across the Globe on two of the busiest days of the exhibition with one of the French candidates finishing second overall and the two Dutch candidates getting first and third winning the Team Trophy.

As members of the International Butchers Confederation (CIBC) NCB organised sponsorship and training for a UK Team to compete in the 2019 competition hosted by the Deutscher Fleischer-Verband. Team UK 2019 was sponsored by Dalebrook, Dalziel, Institute of Meat (IoM), RAPS UK, Southern Regional College and the Worshipful Company of Butchers.

Institute of Meat says Think Tank’s call for titles to recognise craft skills long overdue

A new report issued by think tank, The Social Market Foundation (SNF), whilst welcome, only highlights something The Institute of Meat have been doing for a decade, according to their Chief Executive, Keith Fisher.

‘Making Apprenticeships Work’ published by SNF on 27th March asserts that more needs to be done to raise the status of technical and vocational occupations.  It suggests that lessons can be learned from the Middle Ages when the titles such as ‘Master Craftsman’ was first introduced. 

The report added that higher apprenticeships should be recognised as demanding qualifications that can lead to senior jobs and higher wages.  New titles for holders could add status to apprenticeships, and eventually act as ‘signals’ to candidates and employers.

The Institute of Meat’s Chairman, Bill Jermey, first introduced the title of ‘Institute of Meat Accredited Master Butcher’ back in 2009 to recognise the skills, knowledge and experience of those butchers at the top of their profession. To qualify applicants must submit evidence of their suitability for the title, which is then reviewed firstly by an IoM accredited moderator. The title is only awarded after careful consideration of the moderator’s recommendation. It is a highly prized title in the meat industry, held by only 45 of the country’s most accomplished butchers. IoM accredited Master Butchers are entitled to use the post nominals MB.Inst.M to signify their status.

Titles are not just for the most experienced butchers though. Recognising the quality of the Butcher Standard Apprenticeship the IoM now awards butchery apprentices the title of Apprentice Member, Institute of Meat – App.M.Inst. Apprentices successfully completing their apprenticeship can then apply to become full members, with the title M.Inst.M, to signify their level of qualification. The final step between apprentice and master butcher is ‘Graduate’, G.M.Inst.M, which butchers completing the Advanced Butcher Apprenticeship are entitled to apply for. 

Commenting on the report, Fisher said,

“We welcome the SNF’s suggestions. The new butchery apprentices are deserving members of the title, Apprentice Member, Institute of Meat. The apprenticeship is demanding and requires their full commitment. Those that succeed may become the Institute of Meat Master Butchers (MB.Inst.M) of the future.” 


Notes to Editors:

The Institute of Meat was formed in 1946 and is a recognised professional body in the meat industry. Its core purposes are to promote high standards of training and career development and provide a forum for meat industry professionals to connect and share ideas and expertise. 

Institute of Meat and Worshipful Company of Butchers Annual Awards 2019 is a Royal Celebration

In a tradition dating back over quarter of a century, the Institute of Meat (IoM) and Worshipful Company of Butchers (WCB) today awarded the achievements of apprentices, employers and training providers at their annual awards, held at The Painters Hall, London. The event, a highlight in the meat industry calendar was attended by a very special guest of honour this year, HRH The Princess Royal, Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Butchers and Fellow of the Institute of Meat. Over a hundred guests attended the annual awards and 12 category winners were presented with their awards by HRH The Princess Royal and Institute of Meat Chief Executive, Keith Fisher (MB.Inst.M).

The awards and winners were:

Best New Apprentice sponsored by Seymour Manufacturing International Ltd – Rosie Masters

Best Retail ButcheryApprentice sponsored by National Craft Butchers – Robert Smith

Best Independent Retailer Meat Apprentice sponsored by Paul Edkins Memorial Cup and Worshipful Company of Butchers – Sally Capstick

Best Multiple Retailer Butchery Apprentice sponsored by Sealed Air Ltd – Dan Turner

Best Meat Processing Apprentice sponsored by Oakfield (Foods) Ltd – Jack White

Best Abattoir Worker / Apprentice sponsored by Windsor Food Machinery Ltd  – Jonathan Seville

Best Poultry Apprentice sponsored by Worshipful Company of Poulters – Eva Szabo

Best Meat Apprentice Showing Real Management Potential sponsored by Kenneth Jenkins Challenge Cup and Worshipful Company of Butchers – Joseph O’Sullivan

Lord Graham Endeavour Award sponsored by Food Manufacture – Samuel Newey

Best Company Training Scheme sponsored by  Fred Mallion Bowl and Institute of Meat – ABP UK Talent Academy

Best Meat Training Provider of the Year sponsored by Worshipful Company of Butchers – MEAT Ipswich Ltd

Champion Meat Apprentice of the Year sponsored by Meat Management Magazine – Jack White

Our Award winners with Graham Baker, Bill Jermey and Keith Fisher

The overall winner, the ‘Champion Meat Apprentice of the Year’, chosen from the individual categories, was Jack White, from Cranswick Country Foods. He receives a winner’s trophy and certificate, a year’s free membership of the IoM and an additional cash prize of £500. Commenting on this year’s annual awards Keith Fisher said, ‘These awards are always a special occasion, in that we are safe-guarding the future of the meat industry. Many of the recipients of today’s awards will go on to become the next generation of meat industry leaders.’

HRH The Princess Royal with Jack White, winner of Champion Meat Apprentice of the Year

In addition, 7 experienced butchers who had met the Institute of Meat’s rigorous criteria were awarded IoM accredited Master Butcher status, MB.Inst.M. They were: David Corbett, Josh Douglas, Peter Horton, Simon Hoyland, Timothy Rowe, Jon Rae and Tony De Sousa. De Sousa and Rae became the first South African butchers to be recognised in this way by the IoM.

IoM Accredited Master Butchers with Graham Baker, Bill Jermey and Keith Fisher
Boars Head Ceremony 2018

Crowds of onlookers, including members of the Institute of Meat and London tourists, enjoyed the annual Boars Head Ceremony in London on Wednesday 28th November, when Liverymen from the Worshipful Company of Butchers, led by this year’s Master, Graham Baker, processed the traditional Boars Head to the new Lord Mayor, who received it at Mansion House.

The ceremony dates back to 1343, when the presentation of a Boars Head was agreed in payment for a parcel of land acquired by the Butchers Company. It takes place each November, shortly after the new Lord Mayor has taken up his year of office.

The Butchers have a Boar’s Head prepared and suitably decorated so that it can be carried shoulder-high through the City streets. This year the procession set off from the Pewterers’ Hall with a drum band leading the way and a police escort to stop London traffic.

Upon reaching the Mansion House the party of butchers and guests are invited into the building, where the Lord Mayor officially receives the Boar’s Head. This year Liverymen were welcomed by Peter Estlin and Lindy Estlin the new Lord and Lady Mayoress.

At the ceremony in Mansion House the meat is sliced off the head and served to all attending, which is washed down with suitably festive drinks.

2018 Annual Golden Haggis Awards

CEO Keith Fisher had the honour and privilege of being invited to judge the 2018 Annual Golden Haggis Awards which were held at the Oban Distillery in Scotland on Sunday 25th November 2018.

Haggis makers from all over Scotland, from Dingwall in the north to Dumfries in the south met the added challenge of a haggis from Cumbria.

Keith, along with fellow judges, chef/forager Gary Goldie of WildFood and Visit Scotland food writer Neil Robertson decided the winner of the 2018 Golden Haggis Award was McCaskies of Wemyss Bay.

Others recognised in the Golden Haggis Awards were:-
Runner Up: John M Munro, Dingwall
Runner Up: Crombie’s of Edinburgh
Finalist: Boghall Butchers, Bathgate
Finalist: JB Houston, Dumfries

Image: John Akroid from McCaskies is presented with both trophies by Douglas Scott and Keith Fisher.


Industry achievers recognised at Institute of Meat and Worshipful Company of Butchers Annual Prizegiving

In a tradition that dates back over 25 years, the meat and poultry industry gathered today to celebrate excellence amongst its own, at the IoM and WCB Annual Prizegiving. The event took place at The Painters’ Hall in London and was attended by over a hundred members of the wider industry.

The prizegiving was established to reward the achievements of butchers, their employers and training providers throughout the UK. A total of thirteen awards were given; this year seeing the first ‘Best Abattoir Worker achieving WATOK’ award, in recognition of the importance of this element of the industry.

The categories and prize winners were:

Best New Apprentice Progressing on a Trailblazer StandardMEAT IpswichSeymour Manufacturing International LtdHarvey Woolgar
Best Retail Butchery


MEAT IpswichThe National Federation of Meat and Food Traders’Elsie Yardley
Best Meat Processing


Dunbia Training AcademyThe Perpetual Cup

Worshipful Company of Butchers

Joshua Bridges
Best Poultry Industry


Southern Regional CollegePoulters’ CompanySinead McVeigh
Best Independent Retail Meat ApprenticeMEAT IpswichPaul Edkins Memorial Cup

Worshipful Company of Butchers

James Taylor
Best Meat Manufacturing ApprenticeMEAT IpswichOakfield (Foods) LtdDawid Waszkiewicz
Best Abattoir Worker who has achieved WATOK in 2017Fast Forward Vets LtdWindsor Food Machinery LtdKarl Eastoe
Meat Apprentice Showing Most Management PromiseRemit TrainingKenneth Jenkins Challenge Cup Worshipful Company of ButchersLuke Petts
Best Company Training


Crosby Butchery TrainingFred Mallion Bowl

Institute of Meat

Booker Group
Best Meat Training Provider

of the Year

Crosby Butchery TrainingYandell PublishingCrosby Butchery Training
Lord Graham Endeavour


MEAT IpswichInstitute of MeatMichael Brett
Champion Meat Apprentice of the YearMEAT Ipswich/Simpsons ButchersAHDB Beef and Lamb


James Taylor


The overall winner, chosen from the category winners, was James Taylor, employed by Simpsons Butchers, Sleaford and trained by Meat Ipswich. He receives a years honorary membership of the IoM and a cash prize of £500. Commenting on why the judges selected James, IoM Chief Executive, Keith Fisher (MB.Inst.M) said,

‘James embodies tomorrows generation of highly skilled craft butchers. For a young man in his early twenties he has already achieved so much; his accolades include a gold medal at WorldSkills UK Butchery competition last year. He is creative, precise and ambitious – a deserving winner indeed.’

In recognition of the skills and high standards upheld by more experienced butchers, eight professional butchers were also awarded Institute of Meat Accredited Master Butcher status. They were:

Martin McIntyre, Simon Bennett, Sue Winders, Henry McAlonan, Mike Roach, Kevin Culverwell, Arthur Burke and Thomas Hughes.

Bill Jermey, Chairman of the Institute of Meat said of the Prizegiving,

‘The meat and poultry industry is not only a proud industry, but a forward-thinking one too. It is our mission at the IoM to encourage, inspire and reward; this is at the heart of the Prizegiving event. I’m especially delighted to see our colleagues in the abattoir sector joining the event this year. I hope that with the new abattoir apprenticeship standard now approved we’ll see more nominations for abattoir workers in the years to come.’