Still the best job 50 years on

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE - JEF­FREY KITT

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.

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