Jedburgh butchers do the double at industry training awards

Training Mentor of the Year Finalist Allan Learmonth (left) and his apprentice, Level 3 Modern Apprentice of the Year Winner Ryan Briggs.
Training Mentor of the Year Finalist Allan Learmonth (left) and his apprentice, Level 3 Modern Apprentice of the Year Winner Ryan Briggs.

Two Borders butchers have proven they’re a cut above the rest after picking up top awards at this year’s Scottish Craft Butcher Training Awards.

Both Ryan Briggs and his mentor and boss Allan Learmonth, from A.J. Learmonth Butchers in Jedburgh, were recognised at the awards at the Stirling Campus of Forth Valley College on Wednesday, November 22.

Training Mentor of the Year Finalist Allan Learmonth, centre back, and apprentice, Level 3 Modern Apprentice of the Year Winner Ryan Briggs, front left, both from  AJ Learmonth, Jedburgh

Training Mentor of the Year Finalist Allan Learmonth, centre back, and apprentice, Level 3 Modern Apprentice of the Year Winner Ryan Briggs, front left, both from AJ Learmonth, Jedburgh

Ryan was named winner of the Scottish Craft Butchers Level 3 Modern Apprentice of the Year category, while Allan was named as a finalist in the Training Mentor of the Year section.

For Ryan, this award rounds off an extremely successful year in which he was also named overall under-22 champion at the Scottish Meat Training’s skills competition back in May.

The 19-year-old has worked at A.J. Learmonth since leaving school nearly three years ago.

His assessor Gordon King said: “Ryan has had a steep learning curve in his journey towards SVQ level 3 and has taken it all in his stride.

“Despite being nervous about competing for the first time, Ryan relied on Allan’s wealth of experience to guide him through the heat stages to reach the final, which he won in May 2017.

“Ryan worked hard to produce the evidence for his Level 3 while at the same time planning his products and display for the final.

“He has grown from strength to strength on his journey through Level 3 and has matured into a young man who is an asset to his company, a rising star in our industry and a credit to himself.”

Ryan will now represent Team GB at the World Butchery Challenge in Belfast next March, competing in the apprentice category against young butchers from all around the world.

And he says it’s all down to his mentor, Allan.

A butcher of more than 33 years, Allan has run his own business in the town’s High Street for the past 12 years and in that time has picked up numerous regional and national butchery awards.

But this is the first time he’s been recognised for his mentoring skills.

Ryan, who nominated Allan for the award, said: “Without him I wouldn’t have achieved anything close to what I have, from completing my level 3 in the time period that I have, winning the under-22 meat skills competition in Perth against what were tough competitors, and now representing GB in Ireland in March.

This was all made possible by the hard work and dedication that Allan has put into my training, from little things like answering odd questions to physically showing me the best and most efficient ways of doing my job.

“It wasn’t only in working hours either ... on the lead-up to Perth he gave up numerous nights and Sundays to help push me in the right direction and perfect the skills I needed.

“He has put his trust in me and now allowing me to do my own thing and running his shop on the odd days has really brought me on, not only as a butcher, but as a leader and a personality overall.”

The awards, sponsored by the Scotch Butchers Club run by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), are in their second year. They play a valuable role in recognising the efforts of young people to develop their butchery skills throughout their careers, as well as those who offer support.

Graeme Sharp, marketing executive, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Scottish Craft Butchers Training Awards this year and our congratulations go to all the winners and finalists who have been recognised.

“Promoting and encouraging young butchers to develop and showcase their fantastic skills and ideas is key to the future of the industry and it’s great to see the passion and drive every one of these butchers has for their craft.”