ANNIVERSARY: Alstonville butcher Bruce Hall on July 21 marks 30 years working in Alstonville's Main St.
ANNIVERSARY: Alstonville butcher Bruce Hall on July 21 marks 30 years working in Alstonville's Main St. Graham Broadhead

Bruce the butcher has seen a few snags in 30-year career

THERE has been plenty of snags in the career of Alstonville's Bruce Hall.

And that's because he's a butcher.

He will on July 21 mark his 30th anniversary working in the same business, which today is Alstonville Quality Meats.

The changes to the humble snag is just one thing Bruce has seen in his time wielding the cleaver on the Plateau.

Bruce is originally from Murwillumbah where, at the age of 16, he started his butcher's apprenticeship.

But he met a girl from Alstonville, Leanne (nee Eggins) and made the move south to settle.

He got a job in the butcher's shop in Main St, which was then owned by Geoff Spearing and located in the shop where Alstonville Quality Meats is today.

That shop began its life as a butcher's shop back in 1943 under Tammy Gough.

Bruce has worked under two other owners -- Danny Slattery and current owner Ashleigh Thomson -- and seen the business move twice in 30 years -- once to a shop near the newsagency and then last October, the business moved back to its original location.

In that time, Alstonville has changed a lot with the advent of the Alstonville bypass.

"A lot of people thought the bypass would kill the town, but it didn't -- it's made it better," he said.

Bruce said the changes in the business's owners has kept his interest in the job up over the years.

And that particularly applies to the current owner who took over the butcher shop eight years ago, bringing with him a range of sausage recipes which were much more than the traditional beef snags Bruce had worked on for many years.

The business has in seven of the past eight years won a category in the annual Sausage King awards.

Bruce said the introduction of the variety of sausages in the business allowed him to "reinvent myself".

Also, Bruce said he is seeing more and more people asking for unusual cuts of meat, which he puts down to the influx of residents who have come from other countries and from those inspired by TV cooking shows and magazines.

Bruce remembers the old-school days when he would hand out a cocktail frankfurter, or cherio, to youngsters who came into the shop.

As for his favourite cut of meat, he didn't hesitate to say "T-bone".

But even Bruce admits, while he knows a good cut of meat, he's not the best person to ask advice on how to cook it.

"But I'm learning," he said.