National Craft Butchers

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Obituary: J (Bryan) Cockburn FinstM

It is with deep regret we announce the death of former NCB President Bryan Cockburn who passed away suddenly on 11th December.

Bryan was a National Craft Butchers Life Hon Vice President, Past National Federation of Meat & Food Traders President (1992-1993), Fellow of the Institute of Meat and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Butchers in London, where he served on the Court. He was also a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Butchers in York.

Born in 1936, the meat business was in Bryan’s blood as his grandfather ran the village butchery. He left boarding school at 17 and worked for £1 a week in a local butcher’s shop prior to doing his National Service. He served in the Green Howards and was awarded the Cyprus Imperial Medal and Clasp.

On his return from his military days he went back into the meat business completing his training with Taylors of Darlington.

Following a brief time with Fawcett’s in Richmond he bought an ailing business for £800 in Bedale, North Yorkshire. Together with his wife, Eileen and their four sons they grew the business into the thriving shop it is today.

In 1985 Bryan purchased a small farm rearing Highland cattle and sold the meat in his shop, of which he was immensely proud. Things changed with the outbreak of BSE and the introduction of the 30-month rule in the early nineties. Then in 2002, following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease on adjacent land Bryan had to have his beloved herd destroyed.

Bryan joined the National Federation of Meat Traders (NFMT) in 1965 becoming chairman of the Northallerton and District Butchers Association in 1972 and President of the Northern Council of Butchers in 1989.

He joined the NFMT Executive Council representing the Northern Area in 1987 serving on the Training and Education and Parliamentary committees. In May 1992 he became National President and in 1996 replaced Ernest Wrightson as Chair of the Management Committee until 2009 but continued as Chairman of NFMFT (services) Ltd until 2012 when he was made a Life Honorary Vice President on retirement from the Executive Council of the NFMFT.

Bryan was also a board member of the Guild of Q Butchers and served on the Advisory Committee for Meat at Thomas Danby College in Leeds and was a member of the Meat Training Council. He chaired the Joint Consultative Council for the Meat Trade in the United Kingdom and was a Member of both the Highland Cattle Society and the Royal Smithfield Club.

A member of the Four and Twenty and Rolls Royce Enthusiast Club, Bryan also held two School Governorships, Chaired the local Sports Centre, was a Chairman of the Bedale Chamber of Trade, a Town Councillor for twelve years and a member of the Board of Visitors for Her Majesty ‘s Prison and Remand Centre in Northallerton.

Bryan always believed there was a place for the independent retail butcher for those who diversified and changed with the times. He always said butchery had been good to him.

Written by : John Bond

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