Simon Belcher from Toothill, who was featured at swindonlink.com on his way to the Cardiff Festival of the Sea on 1 and 2 September came away with a special and unexpected accolade.
The 39 year old was a member of a team chosen from Sainsbury’s stores across Britain entered in three competitions at the 80th National Federation of Fishmongers British Fish Craft Championships.
Fishmongers from supermarket chains, independent shops and workers from the fish trade were tested in their skills in dressing, cutting and presenting fish.
Whilst Simon wasn’t selected for a top placing in the festival competitions, unbeknownst to the entrants, there were secret judges patrolling the festival site observing them at work. At the prize giving, to his utter surprise, he was called forward to be presented with the National Federation of Fishmonger Golden Jubilee Perpetual Challenge Cup.
“I was completely taken aback when all the competitors from different supermarkets turned to me and said you’ve won,” said Simon. “I really didn’t know what I had won as I was unaware that there was another competition going on. You could have knocked me over.”
The judges were on the look out for a stand-out individual, for both their professional fish skills, but also the way he or she engaged with colleagues, other competitors and members of the public.
When a judge asked for a fishmonger at ten minutes notice to put on a demonstration for people visiting the festival, Simon immediately stepped forward and put on a well received show on how to prepare fish at home.
He said: “I think my willingness to take on whatever was asked impressed the judges. I’m so pleased to win because, whilst the other competitions came with a vase and a cash reward, the challenge cup is one of only two trophies where the fishmonger’s name is inscribed on it forever. It makes me feel special that I’ve been recognised in this way.”
He added he was surprised by the number of well-wishers who visited him after Swindon Link magazine exclusively revealed he was on the way to the championships. “So many people read about me and came over to say good-luck, even former colleagues at Asda popped in to wish me well. Thanks very much to everybody for their support.”
Simon first trained as a fishmonger 17 years ago after a call went out for somebody with little sense of smell when he was working at Asda.
• Read about Simon in the exclusive story at swindonlink.com before he went to the competition
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