Billy McCafferty bids farewell to Forth
When Billy McCafftery hangs up his apron and closes the shutters this Saturday, it will bring to an end a 25-year chapter in his life.
And while joking that customers should remember the whip-round, it’s clear it will also be an emotional day.
For the leading man at this Forth business, which has become a local institution, has been forced to call it a day.
The joints he serves over the counter may be top-notch but his own leave much to be desired; after years of punishment in the shop, he’s waiting on his third hip replacement.
Early mornings and grafting all day have taken their toll so it’s been a hard ten months for Billy – and that’s what prompted him to look for a buyer at the end of last year.
Luckily, the stars aligned as Jonathan Gillespie, a 26-year-old family man from Bo’ness, was looking for his own business.
His wife Bryony wanted to stay in her home town Carluke with their toddler Tommy so the Forth shop was perfectly situated for Jonathan to expand his website and home delivery service.
Billy is happy to hand over the keys to a young man who wants to serve the local community for years to come.
For that is the same attitude that served him well when the McCaffertys came to Forth 25 years ago.
Billy was by no means inexperienced back then; he started in the butchery business as a van boy at the age of 13 with James Chapman in Wishaw, before serving his apprenticeship there and later becoming manager.
In 1995, he and Ann agreed it was time to branch out and they have since seen the family business flourish.
There’s little doubt it is a family concern – their daughter Linsey (33) is the store manager and son Grant (29) has also been roped in on occasion.
Arguably, though, it was Billy’s dad Willie – who sadly passed away three years ago, aged 82 – who first helped them make their name.
Billy explained: “Dad worked with me when he retired and did the bakery for me. He pushed us to enter competitions and then asked me for a raise when we won, which he didn’t get!
"We’re known as an award-winning butcher for our pies, bridies and steak bakes – that was all inspired by dad.”
Linsey has since helped Billy move with the times, introducing a range of ready to cook products to meet the needs of a new generation.
He said: “She’s worked with me since she was 14-years-old and has progressed, just like I did, through the business.She’s won several customer service and product development awards; she’s been instrumental in us moving with the times, even though I’m still old school!”
Billy is now setting his sights on getting the hip operation so that he can enjoy more time with the family and his grandchildren Aaron (8) and Olivia (6) but he has no plans to retire just yet!
He said: “I’m only 62 – I’m too young to retire. I just need to get this hip fixed and then I’ll be looking for my next job.”
While joking about the whip-round, Billy’s not looking forward to Saturday.
He explained: “It will be hard to say goodbye to customers we’ve known for years, who have long since become friends.
"I work in a community that gives so much back. It’s been an absolute pleasure to be part of that and we will miss everyone dearly.”