A family firm is hoping to keep meat production in the South West local by establishing Cornwall's only training course for school-leavers who want to become butchers.
Etherington's Butchery Academy, which welcomed its first students this week, is the brainchild of Mark Etherington, who said the school will train a new generation of home-grown butchers. As well as young people looking for a career in the business, the courses have already attracted interest from chefs, foodies and smallholders keen to learn traditional skills such as boning, jointing and sausage-making.
Mr Etherington, whose grandfather started the family butchery business at Carharrack, near Redruth, in the 1950s, said: "The initial idea came about because I wanted to encourage youngsters locally to consider a career in butchery – and the fact that we need people to move into the business as older butchers retire. It is important to me as a local man to be able to offer others a chance because I believe it is very important that we equip our young people with the right skills for employment and keep the butchery trade alive. Since launching the academy, we have been amazed by the high level of interest and have already had groups of trainee chefs from Jamie Oliver's Fifteen and Rick Stein's."
A range of one-day courses, led by master butcher Francis Linn, are being run at Brian Etherington Meat Company's £700,000 purpose-built centre at Wheal Rose, near Redruth. The company is in talks with colleges throughout Cornwall, with a view to offering NVQ students opportunities at the academy.