When Innes Kelly reflects on what made him want to pursue a career in butchery, he shares fond memories of his youth.
“I used to help with the dairy cows with my grandad as a kid,” says the 18-year-old, who now resides in Laurencekirk.
“I was always keen on animals and I enjoyed making food too.”
Innes’ grandad, Ian Alexander, was a dairyman and helped introduce Innes – along with his sister Katie – to the field.
Little did Ian know that by introducing Innes to this world, he played a crucial role in cementing his grandson’s passion for butchery.
From Mearns Academy to Charles McHardy
Innes has always been an avid sports fan and has shown particular interests in rugby and golf over the years. He has also competed in triathlons.
After leaving Mearns Academy in 2020, the food industry was always on his mind. The youth went on to complete a course of Hospitality at Dundee & Angus College in Arbroath.
“I wanted to leave school and thought working in the food industry is what I would do,” Innes said.
“There was a special on Landward about the buffalo farm in Fife and how they do their own butchery.
“I thought that sounded interesting, so I applied for a job at Charles Mchardy Butchers in Stonehaven and [owner] Robert Clark said ‘When can you start?’
He went on to say: “I started a Saturday job in spring 2020 just before Covid, then went full-time in the summer of 2020. I’ve been here ever since.”
The family that runs Charles Mchardy Butchers has a long history in butchery.
It all started in 1935 when Robert’s grandfather, Robert Mackie Clark, purchased a small butcher shop on Inverbervie’s Main Street.
The business has progressed through the years and its portfolio boasts three locations across the north-east in Stonehaven, Laurencekirk and Bridge of Don.
What does the role entail?
All of Innes’ butchery training has been carried out with the close-knit team of roughly 15 to 20 people.
The 18-year-old works an average of 40 hours per week. This time is mainly spent in the Stonehaven branch, however he covers holidays in Laurencekirk to lend a hand.
Innes said: “My jobs include preparing the counter, serving and the butchery of lamb, pork, beef and venison.
“I also cure bacon and make sausages and puddings, as well as make up online orders for customers.”
Charles McHardy Butchers offers a wide selection of flavoured burgers, sausages, kebabs, stir fries and “the best selection of pies”.
“We also, of course, do all the best cuts of lamb, pork, beef and poultry,” Innes adds. “We have a fish cabinet, vegetables and lots of other produce on our shelves too.”
Customers visiting one of the shops will also spot a range of gluten-free products. And the team are starting to offer vegetarian options such as haggis and white and black pudding.
‘I’m proud of myself’
Innes describes the job as “fun and interesting” and has loved having the opportunity to learn a variety of different roles.
His aspiration is to travel and potentially open a shop in two decades’ time.
“I would also love to have a small croft and do the full farm to fork process and have a sustainable lifestyle,” adds Innes.
“I’m proud of myself for how far I have come since starting out at the butchers. I’ve learned skills that will be with me forever and I’ve gained confidence as well.
“As for my grandad, he asks me all the time about butchery, different cuts and if I can do this or that. He’s chuffed I’m a butcher.”