David Lidgate, Lidgate Butchers

By definition, independent butchers must be specialists! Opportunities remain for those who have learned from the past and adapt to the future. The advice my father gave me when I came into the meat trade was: "Go the extra mile - you may be surprised at the few people you find there." His advice remains true today; to stay in business and improve ourselves, we all need to be better and seek opportunities to learn. We must make every effort to improve everything we do - look for better meat, find better ways of displaying it and listen to our customers. In the meat trade, we have failed to pass our ideas on to the next generation or to each other. We were losing ideas in each generation, especially the knowledge of meat. As members of the Guild of Q Butchers, we are very fortunate, because the organisation was set up for the express purpose of sharing ideas - not simply ideas for products, but also for promotion, use of space, improvement of service, particularly what is working and what is not.

The coming year will present new challenges. Supermarkets are improving, but the public continues to have great faith in their independent butchers - and we must not break that faith. The Guild of Q Butchers really has its own 'mafia': we help each other whenever we can. I and my sons, Danny and Ben, and Richard Latimer, our shop manager, all look forward to working with some of the great craftsmen of our trade in 2007.