Richard and Alison Jeffcoat are looking forward to working for someone else and having their family life back after 17 years in the butchering business in Raglan.

The Jeffcoats recently sold their Raglan Topcut Butchery business to Hamilton-based butcher Ricky Barham. The pair have also sold their house and relocated to Hamilton, but Richard will be staying on at the butchery till the end of the month with the new owner.
It will be a total change in lifestyle for the couple, who plans to firstly take a holiday and enjoy some quality time with their two teenagers, Ashleigh, 16, and 14-year-old Nicolas.

They might even be able to take their first family holiday at Christmas time, which was always their busy time at the shop.
“I’ve never had a Christmas that I haven’t had to worry about Christmas hams or how many precooked sausages I had,” Richard said.
Richard is planning to go see Nicolas play in a national under-15 rugby tournament in Dunedin, and Alison is going to Samoa next month to watch Ashleigh compete in lawn bowls in the Youth Commonwealth Games.

After that, the couple plans to find nice, normal jobs with less stress and responsibility.
“Working 35 to 40 hours a week would be like semi-retirement after 25 years of butchering, with all the hours that are involved.”
Richard worked eight years in his father’s Frankton butchery before buying the Raglan butchery from Alison’s brother in 1998. So butchery was on both sides of the family, but particularly for Richard, whose father, grandfather and great-grandfather have also been in the trade.

“I started working for Dad with no real idea of carrying it on. But then the passion took over. It’s in the blood,” he explained.
Ashleigh likes clean hands, but Nicolas was showing some talent for butchery:

“He was dicing beef and tying sausages at the age of 13. I only showed him once and he got it straight away.”
Famous for its sausages, Topcut was now producing more than 60 different flavoured varieties. Over the 17 years the Jeffcoats have owned the busy butchery, the variety, flavours and cuts of meat available have expanded considerably.

“There’s a bit of a passion now for people to cook with real meat and go to a shop and buy the meat they want, rather than go to a supermarket and buy a packet.”

Now the couple is pleased to be handing the business over into the capable hands of Ricky Barham, who is originally from Ngaruwahia and has been in the meat industry for 20 years. The Barham family also has a holiday house in Raglan.

The Jeffcoats’ other butcher, Jodie Ratima, who Richard said was “the best butcher I’ve ever known” would be staying on.
While Richard and Alison are looking forward to a less stressful life, they will miss some of the local Raglan colour.

“We’ve got heaps of neat customers, heaps of characters,” Richard said. “That’s what I’ll miss, is people sticking their heads in the door to give us a bit of banter.”

Rachel Benn