Leeds butcher is still on chop form after half-a-century

David Skelton
David Skelton
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A LEEDS butcher is set to celebrate 50 years working in the same Armley shop where he started his apprenticeship as a teenager.

David Skelton was just 15 when he left school to start learning the butchery trade at the shop on Town Street.

David Skelton (right) with assistant Mark Hoffman

David Skelton (right) with assistant Mark Hoffman

Mr Skelton, 65, will celebrate the golden anniversary on April 16 by selling prize-winning sausages for 40p a kilo, the price they were when he started work in 1965.

The grandfather-of-five has no plans to hang up his apron. He said: “Butchers tend to retire and die, so I’m going to keep going. I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I didn’t work.”

He started out working 48-hour weeks as a delivery boy, taking out orders on a bicycle in tandem with studying the trade part-time for seven years at the old Thomas Danby College on Whitehall Road.

Mr Skelton still makes weekly deliveries to one elderly couple that were on his rounds when he was a butcher’s boy.

David Skelton pictured in 1985 with award winning sausages and  the Yorkshire and North East Champion Supreme Trophy

David Skelton pictured in 1985 with award winning sausages and the Yorkshire and North East Champion Supreme Trophy

Mr Skelton, who bought the business when previous owner Geoffrey Parker retired in 1981, said: “We used to do an awful lot of delivering. I would be out every day of the week taking out 20 to 30 orders at a time to people all over the Armley area. People didn’t have fridges so they used to buy their meat on a daily basis. We do very little delivering these days.

“We used to sell tremendous amounts of brisket and the cheaper cuts. Now we sell more steaks than we ever did. People used to want fat on their meat. Now they don’t want any fat on it at all if possible.

“Our biggest competition these days are takeaways. When I first started in the trade there was only one type of takeaway, fish and chips. Now there must 20 different types.

“In 1965 there were 28 butchers within a mile of this shop, now there’s just us and another one.”

Mr Skelton’s assistant Mark Hoffman, 52, started work in the shop when he was a 16-year-old and has worked there for 36 years.

Father-of-two Mr Hoffman said: “I enjoy my job. We have a good laugh with customers.”

Mr Hoffman echoed Mr Skelton’s comments about how customers’ shopping habits have changed. He said: “We rarely sell products from the cheaper end of the market, like neck of lamb.

“It’s very rare we sell that. People used to make stews and casseroles with it.”