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Food help in cost-of-living crisis sees Culloden butcher employee honoured

By Philip Murray

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Mark Sloggie, A&i Quality Butchers manufacturer. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Mark Sloggie, A&i Quality Butchers manufacturer. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Community-spirited efforts to help people struggling through the cost-of-living crisis have seen a Culloden butchers' employee honoured for their work.

A & I Quality Butchers in Culloden, stepped in to help when Smithton Church reached out to see what it could do to ease the financial burden and loneliness of people struggling to make ends meet.

The church recognised that there was a need to provide meals for those struggling to feed themselves or their families thanks to runaway inflation and sky-rocketing energy bills

Related: Food nights at Smithton Church aid the Blythswood Ukraine appeal and have raised around £300

Related: Inverness butcher wins gold award for steak pie at Scottish Craft Butchers Awards

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So A & I Quality Butchers agreed to help provide a weekly barbecue with burgers, sausages, rolls, juice and more every week – at a substantially reduced price, with the proceeds also going to charity.

The resulting community food nights, which run on Thursdays at 5pm, began in April 2022 and have raised lots of money for charity in the time since then.

The company's subsidy of the barbecue means anyone popping into the weekly food nights at the church can have four burgers/sausages for just £1, as well as the opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones. The £1 fee for the food is also donated to good causes, with Blythswood's Ukraine appeal receiving hundreds of pounds from the events within weeks of their launch last year.

Anne Rodgers, Smithton Church manager and Mark Sloggie, A&i Quality Butchers manufacturer. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Anne Rodgers, Smithton Church manager and Mark Sloggie, A&i Quality Butchers manufacturer. Picture: James Mackenzie.

And the employee who helps to oversee the preparation of the food and smooth running of the barbecues was surprised but delighted when he was nominated for, and won, a special industry award recognising his community-spirited work.

Mark Sloggie was awarded the Extra Mile Award at the latest Scottish Craft Butchers Training Awards after he was nominated by the church's Anne Rogers.

A delighted Mark, who joined A & I Butchers straight from school and has been with the company for 19 years, was given the welcome, but surprise news, when he was on his way to the awards ceremony in Dundee – with his bosses having kept his nomination under wraps.

"It was a bit of a shock at first because I didn't even known I'd been put in," he said, adding that he was "always looking to help other people" wherever he could.

Employer Ally Paul said Mark's work towards each food night sees him produce a "huge batch of sausages and burgers" and then clear everything away after the events, return the equipment to the shop and do all the washing up associated with it.

He said: "Without Mark’s unfailing commitment, the project would not be the success it is" and added that this dedication is something he displays throughout his role with the company. "He is always willing to help with any extra jobs we have, including helping with our Christmas display at our house or moving furniture for any of us."

Gordon King, the executive manager of Scottish Craft Butchers, said Mark was a very worthy winner.

Mr King said: “He ran with something he was asked to do by his employer to benefit the church in its support of the wider community 18 months ago and helped make it the success it is today – helping hundreds of people who benefit enormously from all his efforts."

“Mark should be immensely proud of everything he’s done, and continues to do, to ensure good food and good company are available to all at Smithton.”

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