A Saturday job led to a career in butchery for Graham Croucher from Downland Butchers who is now retiring after 47 years in the trade.
Sixty-two-year-old Graham, of Meadowlands Avenue in Hampden Park, started the business in East Dean with his wife Julie 23 years ago and has kept it a family affair. But he says regulars need not worry as he will be passing over the reins to his stepson Sam Connor, who remembers helping out in the shop from a young age, and the shop will remain open.
Graham said, “I know the shop will be in safe hands with Sam.”
Over the years Graham has seen the business go from strength to strength. It sells local pork, lamb, pies, cooked hams, honey and eggs, but is famous for its sausages. It has more than 25 varieties of sausage available, all made using Sussex pork, many of which have won awards.
Graham has been a UK Champion of Champions finalist for an impressive five times and his ‘Italian Job Sausage’ won the speciality category at the recent BPEX Southeast Regional Roadshow.
Graham said, “The ‘Italian Job Sausage’ is one of our most popular and successful sausages. It is my own recipe, which has now been passed to Sam, created after a family holiday to Italy. It is the blend of herbs, tomato and soft and succulent pork shoulder that work so well.”
Sam said he will be keeping up the family traditions but hopes to introduce a delivery service.
He said, “Our customers are loyal and are more like friends than customers.”
Sam says over the years Graham has been loyal to his customers too. When East Dean was cut off by snowfall Graham trekked all the way over to keep the shop open. Sam said, “His customers loved him for it.”
Graham’s career in butchery ends on Tuesday May 6.