Wymondham butcher gets ready to meat Christmas demand
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016
The thought of spending every day in the same place wouldn't appeal to everybody, but Wymondham butcher Peter Parke couldn't imagine anything better.
The 82-year-old is getting ready to fill a huge stack of Christmas orders at his Market Street shop - something he's been doing every year since he was 20.
In fact, Mr Parke has been into the shop almost every single day since 1957 - when he took his one-and-only holiday, a honeymoon to Clacton-on-Sea with his wife Yvonne.
He said: 'Meeting all the people is the main thing I enjoy. Everybody's different.
'What would I do when I retire? But I know I can't go on forever.'
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And this Christmas is shaping up to be as busy as ever, with orders for half a tonne of ham already received, and possibly another half a tonne on the way.
He said: 'They all have to be cut to individual sizes and then some have to be cooked as well.'
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About 100 orders for turkey have also been received, and rib of beef is proving to be ever more popular.
Mr Parke said: 'It's a bit more of a juggle getting them because there's only two sides on each bullock. They are popular every year, but even more this year.'
Work days follow a similar pattern - Mr Parke opens up the shop soon after he gets in at 7am, then assembles the cutting machines and puts out the stock.
'And then I wait for the customers to arrive,' he said.
Far from being just another shop, PT Parke butchers has become a family dynasty.
Mr Parke started working there with his father when he came out of national service aged 20, and now his three daughters, Anne and Jane Parke and Jill Taylor all help with the business, as do grandchildren Tobias and Chloe Parke.
Mr Parke always gives parents who come in a bag of ham for their children, which has become a tradition stretching back years.
Mrs Taylor said: 'Three generations can remember growing up on dad's ham.'
And although he doesn't have to man the counter on Sundays, Mr Parke still comes in to scrub the floor.
He even visits the shop on public holidays, including Christmas Day itself.
He said: 'I just come in and have a look around to make sure everything's all right and clean up a bit.'
And what cut of meat does a butcher like to fill his belly with for Christmas dinner?
He'll be heading around to his daughter, Anne's, for goose on the 25th, and will then partake of a turkey on Boxing Day.
Mr Parke said: 'Goose, and then turkey, and then sleep.'
No need for the others to miss out
Although her father has never got itchy feet, Mrs Taylor said that had never stopped the rest of her family from enjoying holidays.
She said: 'Mum and dad always made sure that we went away on all the school trips, so we never missed out because dad was working.
'And I take mum away on holidays, so everybody's happy.'
On the contrary, Mrs Taylor said they had learned some valuable lessons from Mr Parke, and they were delighted to see him still doing what he loves after all these years.
She said: 'Dad has taught us all a very strong work ethic.
'He's still fit and he can still add up in his head. A lot of 82-year-olds are sitting in front of the TV every day.
'But not dad - everybody knows him and they wave to him when they walk past the shop.'
Market town's gradual change
Business is still good at Peter Thomas Parke butchers, but Mr Parke has certainly noticed a change in the town over the past decade or so.
He said he'd like to see the Market Place as bustling as it was in the old days.
Mr Parke said: 'You used to get a lot of people coming backwards and forwards to the Woolworths, but that closed some years ago.
'More and more people are living here but they don't use the town.'
Mr Parke said popular events such as the Wymonmdham Wynterfest Christmas festival had been successful in drawing crowds into the centre.
He said: 'But where do all those people normally shop?
'It's the same everywhere. Something needs to change - like offering free parking, or there needs to be something to draw customers in.'
Mrs Taylor said there were still enough customers to keep them occupied.
She said: 'We are very busy still. It's enough for an 82-year-old!'