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RJ Hirst | About Us


 
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Sadie and Russell

Sadie and Russell outside their shop in Woodhall Spa


 

RUSSELL HIRST


I was born and grew up in Horncastle and began my butchery apprenticeship in 1979, under the guidance and knowledge of the late Jack Huddleston, Manager of Spratt's Butchers. Jack taught me all of the traditional Lincolnshire butchery skills that are now so sought after and a bit of a rarity these days. It was there that I gained my all-round knowledge, skills and experience of the Butchery trade. After many years working for Jack, I then went on to manage several butchers' shops before opening my own shop in Woodhall Spa in 2003.

From the start I had a clear mission, I wanted to offer customers top quality meat, proper traditional butchery skills and advice on the best cuts and type of meat for the job.Thus ensuring that my customers were consistently  confident in what they had bought and most importantly delighted in how it tasted. I also wanted to revive and produce Lincolnshire specialities, such as my multi award winning Lincolnshire Sausages, which I make daily by hand to a Victorian recipe on the machine known fondly as "the rocket". Admittedly it does look like something from a Jules Verne novel. From opening the shop it was very important for me to honour the artisan methods of production, by using authentic historic recipes and methods of making and baking these Lincolnshire dishes, that have been tried and tested over the centuries.

I feel strongly that it is really important to support other high quality local artisan producers by stocking their products in our shop. Many of these businesses have worked with me and supplied me from the very beginning and they have evolved and grown at the same time. You can see who these producers are by having a look at the Products area of this website. With the forming of Tastes of Lincolnshire (now Select Lincolnshire)  to promote the wonderful food, hospitality and agriculture that we have in this county, becoming a member really consolidated my aims.  Select Lincolnshires mission to wave the Lincolnshire food flag very much mirrored what I wanted to do.

Our wanting to help promote and support the counties wonderful food heritage and fellow artisan producers has been recognised and rewarded for a fourth time by Select Lincolnshire.  In February this year we won Business of the Year 2016, this was just amazing for such a small shop like ours, we were all very proud. To top it all we were also awarded Highly Commended Finalist for being one of the top three best food producers in the county, for the third year running and if that wasn't enough we were again awarded Highly Commended Finalist for being one of the top four food retailers in the county for the second time. In our early Tastes of Lincolnshire days in 2005 and 2009 we won Best Shop and Producer.

When I'm not at work I am a  keen lead guitarist and have played in many bands over the years. A couple of years ago I was part of a band called "Star me Kitten", which was formed by local musicians in Woodhall Spa to play several gigs to raise money for local charities. My love of music goes from Hendrix to the Blues. One of the biggest highlights of my life was when a friend took me to see BB King play in concert and to meet the man himself after the gig, that is an experience I will never forget. 

I'm also an avid collector of model railways and vintage Scalextric, which my Son Oliver and I spend many happy hours together "tinkering" about! I also collects antique and vintage motoring memorabilia and  maybe one day hope to have a car to go with some of the mascots! We're a family of collectors and like nothing better than rummaging at car boot sales and antique shops in our spare time.
 

I can't believe it is over a decade ago that I opened the doors for the first time. Many of you have been loyal customers from the day I opened and I am enormously grateful for your support, custom, loyalty and friendship. The aims that I had for the business when I first opened thirteen years ago are now very much at the forefront of what you want from a local Butchers shop and I will strive to continue providing you with just that.

Best wishes, Russell

 

SADIE HIRST


I was born and grew up in Woodhall Spa. For many years my parents, Mick and Hilary Carter lived in the village. My Brother Adam Carter, is a Painter and Decorator and Retained Fireman and lives with his wife and three children in the village. My Aunty - Lisa Hammond is the resident beauty therapist and reflexologist at The Petwood Hotel in the village. She's excellent - the Crystal Facial is something else!

I attended St Andrews C of E Primary School  and spent most of my days during the summer "down the pool" in Jubilee Park. Secondary school followed and I went to Gartree Secondary Modern (now the Barnes Wallis Acadamy). My first job on leaving school was as Commis Chef and General Assistant at the Dower House in Woodhall Spa in the era of Carol and Harry Plum. It was there that I developed a keen interest in the catering industry. In the early 90's I moved down to Berkshire and then on to Devon and worked for several hotels and a Casino in Torquay.  I then had a change of direction when an opportunity arose for a career in newspapers, followed by working for many years in local radio. I worked my way up through the ranks of a Westcountry radio group. Twenty years ago as now, in 1996 I took a sabbatical to go back packing around the world for a year, this was an amazing once in a lifetime experience, where did that twenty years go? On my return from travelling I managed the sales operation for Orchard FM in Somerset, taking over from the now famous Jeremy Kyle! Whilst working there I attended the Universtity of the West of England as a part time student. I gained a distinction in a Busisness Management HND and was promoted to Sales Director, the youngest in the country working in local radio at that time.

After several years in this role I decided it was time to return back to Lincolnshire and for a while worked at Viking FM in Hull, before moving back to mid Lincolnshire. 
In the Autumn of 2003, whilst working for our local paper The Horncastle News, I decided to visit this new Butchers shop that I heard had just opened in Woodhall Spa. I just popped in to buy a chicken fillet and it was in the shop that I met Russell for the first time. The following May we got engaged, in the October I joined Russell to work in the shop, the following year we were married and then our Son Oliver was born. You just never know what life has in store for you, that chicken fillet has a lot to answer for!


When Oliver was a toddler I retrained as a chef at Lincoln College, which I enjoyed immensley and passed with distinction. Soon after qualifying we had our kitchen at home licenced and we were awarded 5 stars by ELDC, this gave me the flexibility to work around my young family and enable me to make a range of bakes to sell in the shop. 

I pride myself on making my pork pies and pork and red onion marmalade pies in small batches which ensures the quality is consistently high. The hot water pastry is made in a maslin pan and I work to  a combination of my Grandma's old Farmhouse Fare and Be-Ro recipe, using the Lincolnshire method, consisting of only water, salt, flour and lard. The meat is prepared by Russell and the seasoning is true to our area. The meat in my pork and red onion marmalade pies has an added seasoning of black pepper, which balances with the marmalade. Even my marmalade is all prepared by me from scratch, to a secret recipe. I hand raise the pies on a "dolly", the old fashioned way, then they are glazed with local free range eggs from either Fairburns or Bells.I then bake my pies freestanding (not in a tin or hoop) to biscuity perfection, before being jellied and chilled ready for you to enjoy.

My hobby and passion is for collecting old cookery books and researching historic recipes, I am known in many bookshops and charity shops in the area as Sadie the cookery book lady! My interest in baking and historic recipes has led to me being invited to write a monthly food column for local newspaper The Target. I also write a six weekly recipe page for Wolds Scene and Lincs Scene which is a free publication that is posted through the to over 60,000 homes, Waitrose and public places such as libraries. I also contribute recipes to Good Taste magazine on a quarterly basis. This is the foodie magazine produced by Select Lincolnshire. Recently I have been a guest on www.countylinxradio.co.uk, this is an online radio station for the community of East Lindsey. They offer a great service, if you fancy listening to my show the links are on the home page. I've an eclectic mix of music from Dads Army to Nirvana!

All of my column recipes are on the recipe section of this website. I try to mainly focus on traditional festivals, seasonal produce, our local baking heritage and local places of interest.  I love being able to wave our local food flag.

 Due to my interest ( bordering on obsession), with old cookery books I have been invited to speak at various local organisations on the subject of historical cookery books and the unique place the cookery book holds in literature, with my talk "Off the Beeton Track". I really appreciate being given the opportunity to take along some of my books and share with people a bit of background to those authors who have largely been forgotten. I'm getting booked up for 2016 and into 2017, so if you would like to book me, please email me on sadiehirst@btinternet.com

A while ago I was contacted by a lady from a TV production company working for the BBC, who had read my Target column Plum Loaf recipe on line,  to do a days filming for a very well known baking show!The filming took place at Alford windmill and I got to take along some of my old Lincolnshire cookery books, talk about my Plum Loaf recipe and my family history. My Great Great Great Grandparents on my Mums side owned the Chambers Mills in Alford and my Great Great Grandparents looked after and did the catering for the Masonic Lodge in Spilsby and along with my Great Grandma had a reputation which extended beyond the county for the best food and baking that could be found. They did all manner of catering for the local gentry. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to share my own family baking heritage and was an experience I will never forget. Alas my little bit as yet hasn't been aired, but it was great to have been given a  an insight as to what goes on in TV land. 

I feel very fortunate that my work is an extension of my interest and passion about our Lincolnshire food. We live in a beautiful part of the world, with like minded people that really appreciate the value of our counties food culture and heritage and there isn't anywhere else I would rather live and work.

When I'm not making, writing, talking about, photographing or eating food I like to be involved in our local theatre company in Horncastle. Our Son Oliver is a member of Young Stagers. I have recently gone through the process of becoming a Licenced Chaperone, registered with Lincolnshire County Council. I like attending readings and hope to become more involved as time permits. Like Russell and Oliver, I too am an avid collector and like rummaging around at boot sales and charity shops for  old cookbooks. Much to Russells alarm this seems to be spreading to vintage kitchenalia too! I'm also a member of Horncastle History and Heritage Society and love learning and attending Heritage Lincolnshire courses. This week I finished Archeaology of the Lincolnshire Wolds, which was fantastic and a real eye opener as to what history is on our doorstep. 

 I look forward to reviving and baking more delicious recipes for you to enjoy and develping some new ones too. If you would like to contact me at sadiehirst@btinternet.com You can follow me on Twitter Sadie Hirst@RJHirstbutchers

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