Dunfermline Athletic

Perthshire apprentice secures meaty award

Thursday, 2nd Dec 2021

A Perthshire apprentice butcher looks destined to become one of the country`s most promising talents after lifting a national industry award.

Blair Alexander (26), from Coupar Angus, worked with the award-winning butchery team at House of Bruar for three years before leaving recently for a new post at Puddledub`s Kirkcaldy shop.

It was his skill, commitment and drive while apprenticed at the Highland Perthshire complex, however, that saw him secure the coveted Scottish Craft Butchers SVQ Level 2 Modern Apprentice Of The Year Award 2021.

Presented with his trophy at a recent awards lunch by Scotland`s first National Chef and Masterchef: The Professionals winner Gary Maclean, Blair said it was a "thrilling day" at the end of what has been a long journey.

"I am really excited about winning this award," he said. "I`ve been a butcher for a while and reckon I`m good at what I do but I never studied for any qualifications.

"Now I have succeeded in my studies and taken the Scottish title from among the best in the country which is just amazing. I`ll use that success to provide the motivation and drive to get me through my Level 3 this coming year."

Blair praised his trainers at House of Bruar and his assessor at the Scottish Qualifications Authority for believing in him and shaping him for future roles in the industry.
"I wouldn`t be where I am running a shop today without their support and encouragement," he said.

SQA assessor John Farquhar described Blair as being well on his way to becoming a "fantastic addition" to the butchery industry.
"Blair has a solid set of knife skills with a good eye for detail, is great with customers, has great organizational skills and has demonstrated that he has the ability to mentor new staff and enable them to develop," said John.

"I recall one assessment where Blair was seam cutting a venison haunch. He wasn’t quite there with it and we agreed that he would practice for the next assessment. I was then to carry out a hygiene exam with another trainee in the business. By the time I came back (about 90 mins later) there were seven haunches set on the counter all seamed out perfectly by Blair.
"He was always keen to improve - and improve fast - completing his .year`s qualification ahead of schedule."

Gordon King, Executive Manager of Scottish Craft Butchers, explained that an increasing number of youngsters were entering the butchery industry with 320 apprentices currently training for qualifications throughout Scotland.

"These annual Training Awards turn the spotlight on the amazing work going on within the industry to encourage and support our next generation of qualified butchers," he said. "We received nominations from every corner of Scotland of an exceptionally high level and our winners exemplify the very best talent out there.

"The awards go some small way to thank the apprentices who have all stepped up to the plate to support their employers and their customers during the challenges of the past two years and ensure that local butchers remained at the forefront of the food supply chain to communities everywhere.

"It`s heartening to see and hear of the talent and commitment of our extraordinary trainees like Blair and to know that the future of our industry is in safe hands."

The House of Bruar`s Food Hall Buying Manager, Robert Thain, was also shortlisted as a finalist in the Training Partner Of The Year category at the SCB Training Awards.

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