Mad Butcher’s on a ride

Auckland City Harbour News - - News -

Two char­i­ties are both $12,500 bet­ter off af­ter the launch of What a Ride Mate! The Life and Times of the Mad Butcher.

The bi­og­ra­phy of Peter Leitch, writ­ten by sports jour­nal­ist Phil Gif­ford, was launched by Prime Min­ster He­len Clark, who also handed cheques to Al­lergy New Zealand and the Breast Can­cer So­ci­ety.

The Mad Butcher told the au­di­ence he owed the char­i­ties a great deal since his own grand­son had food al­ler­gies and his wife Jan­ice was a breast can­cer sur­vivor.

Miss Clark said Mr Leitch was a re­mark­able man with a heart of gold but who was by no means a soft touch.

His as­ton­ish­ing char­ity work meant a man from hum­ble be­gin­nings on the West Coast who had grown up in a work­ing class fam­ily in Welling­ton’s New­town, had gone on to build a busi­ness em­pire.

“No mat­ter how well you think you know some­one read­ing a bi­og­ra­phy al­ways of­fers in­sights and Peter’s is a great story,” she said.

“His mes­sage is re­ally that if you work at it you can build your dream.”

Sports broad­caster Murray Deaker also paid trib­ute, ac­knowl­edg­ing the Mad Butcher’s sup­port dur­ing his own ill­ness.

“When I had my break­down you were al­ways there for me and that qual­ity of loy­alty is im­por­tant to you.”

The Sky TV and Ra­dio Sport broad­caster de­scribed his friend as hav­ing a healthy ego, be­ing shrewd and some­times even ma­nip­u­la­tive – but above all, never bor­ing.

“He’s his own man and the book re­flects that, be­cause it is sin­cere and gen­uine.”

Voda­fone War­rior Logan Swann wished Mr Leitch a happy 64th birth­day and de­scribed him as a rock who lived by the old-fash­ioned be­lief that you should treat peo­ple as you wanted to be treated your­self.

“Ev­ery­one has words they use to de­scribe Butch but if I had to chose just one it would be ‘priceless’,” he said.

Thank­ing the guests and speak­ers Mr Leitch said he was over­whelmed by the gen­eros­ity shown to him.

“That a prime min­is­ter would make time avail­able for an old leaguie says a lot and is very hum­bling,” he said.

While he was con­cerned he might be em­bar­rassed if the book ended up on sale for $1 if no one wanted to buy it, he hoped that wouldn’t hap­pen be­cause he was proud to be able to do­nate the pro­ceeds to char­ity.

What a Ride Mate! The Life and Times of the Mad Butcher, pub­lished by Harper Collins, is in book­stores now.

Hey coach: All Black coach Gra­ham Henry gets his copy of the Mad Butcher’s bi­og­ra­phy, by writer Phil Gif­ford, signed by the man him­self.

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