Still the best job 50 years on
Nigel Weetman spent half a century as a butcher, but after just two weeks of retirement he is back doing what he loves.
Nigel, 75, finished at Westmeat Blenheim before Christmas but soon realised the life of a retiree wasn’t for him.
He continues to ‘‘moonlight’’ for the butchery when it gets busy or staff are away.
‘‘I was happy to stay on. I could have finished a few years ago but I enjoy talking to the public as much as butchers do,’’ he says. Nigel expects it will be an interesting transition into full retirement after serving the people of Marlborough for 50 years.
Following stints in Melbourne and Wellington, Nigel settled in Picton in the 1970s.
He bought Picton Butchers in 1973, back when it cost two shillings for a pound of sausages.
Staff were paid three pound and six pence for their weekly work, a far cry from the $30 butchers make hourly these days, Nigel says.
For 30 years, Nigel not only got to know the regular customers, but also their children and other relatives as the decades went on.
‘‘The highlight is all the wonderful people you get to meet. You can have a joke with them and they come back with a remark just as clever,’’ he says.
Fourteen apprentices learned their trade under Nigel and he said he was proud to see them each go on to successful careers in different parts of the country.
Picton Butchers closed in 2003 after the building required structural strengthening.
The same year Nigel was elected onto the Marlborough District Council for the Picton ward, and began working at Westmeat Blenheim.
Cuts of meat have become more sophisticated over time, but Nigel said the bones of the job remained the same.
‘‘You don’t have the same thing in a supermarket these days. We’ve come a long way,’’ he says.
A well-deserved break was on the horizon and Nigel will be joining his wife Vicki on a trip to see his children in Australia.
‘‘Fifty years has flown by, the years sort of get quicker and quicker.’’
Retirement doesn’t sit well with former butcher of 50 years Nigel Weetman.