Butcher is a cut above the rest

Darlington and Stockton Times: TOP BUTCHERT: Pictured at the Countryside Alliance Awards are (l-r) executive chairman Sir Barney White-Spunner, CA executive chairman; Andrew Weatherhead; Owen Paterson, Environment Secretary; Sally and Molly Weatherhead, and Julian Smith, MP for Skipton TOP BUTCHERT: Pictured at the Countryside Alliance Awards are (l-r) executive chairman Sir Barney White-Spunner, CA executive chairman; Andrew Weatherhead; Owen Paterson, Environment Secretary; Sally and Molly Weatherhead, and Julian Smith, MP for Skipton

A PATELEY Bridge butcher has been named the best in the UK in the Countryside Alliances "rural Oscars".

H Weatherhead & Sons have been Yorkshire regional champions for two years and have now won the UK champion butcher title for 2013.

Andrew Weatherhead the fifth generation of the family to run the business received the award from Owen Paterson, Environment Secretary, at a presentation in the Houses of Parliament.

He said: "While we have won numerous awards over the years, this accolade is the pinnacle of our many achievements to date.

"It is true testament to all we have done for the past 138 years, a wonderful tribute to our heritage and passion.

"Every single member of the Weatherhead's team - our butchers, our own farm, in fact everyone involved with the business - has contributed to this fantastic achievement. It really is a dream come true."

The judges said: "Last year's Yorkshire champions return bigger and better than ever. Now with Q Guild status - the hallmark of the quality butcher - Weatherhead's have been Pateley Bridge butchers for generations and have adapted and survived, while remaining relevant and busy on the modern high street.

"A visit to their farm shows the commitment to animal welfare, traceability and taste, all things consumers should insist upon. The personal charisma of Andrew Weatherhead and his young daughter's enthusiasm for farming mean the Weatherheads of Pateley Bridge are a brand to be reckoned with."

Molly is the six year-old daughter of Mr Weatherhead and his wife, Sally. "She loves to look after the sheep on the farm and helps me in the shop to smoke our own bacon," he said. "She already looks set to become the sixth generation Weatherhead to join the family business!"

Weatherhead's was established in 1876. Mr Weatherhead's father, Ian, is still involved, primarily sourcing top primestock from local auction marts.

The shop also rears its own meat at Low Ling Park Farm, Ilkley, run by Andrew's father-in-law Robert Gray, and also sources direct from local Nidderdale farmers.

The business also supplies meat to local pubs, restaurants and eateries around Pateley Bridge, Upper Wharfedale, Ripon and Ilkley.

Owen Paterson said: "These awards celebrate rural businesses across the UK from post offices to butchers. They are the backbone of rural life and it is vital that we do all we can to help create the right conditions to allow these businesses to compete and thrive."

Blagdon Farm Shop in Northumberland was highly commended in the butchers section.

The Start-Up winner was Spuds and Berries Farm Shop, Brackenholme, near York.

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