A BUTCHER from Overton has reached the final of this year's WorldSkills UK competition following a virtual heat.

Ben Roberts, 29, from M. E. Evans Traditional Butchers, will be seeking to win the prestigious competition which will be held for the first time at Reaseheath College, Nantwich on November 11 and 12.

As member of the Craft Butchery Team Wales, Ben has worked in the meat industry for 12 years and manages a thriving shop.

"I have wanted to compete at WorldSkills for several years but, until this year, have always struggled to dedicate the time needed to the competition to make it possible," he said.

"I have been selected to represent Craft Butchery Team Wales at the World Butchers Challenge next September 2022 and the WorldSkills competition will allow me to develop key skills and experience to take forward to this global stage.

"Hopefully the skills and experience I gain from both competitions can be brought back into the business and one day allow me to run my own shop."

The finalists were selected after virtual heats, held at their workplaces, judged by independent consultant Viv Harvey and Keith Fisher, chief executive of the Institute of Meat.

They are looking forward to judging the final live.

Viv said: "I was unsure how we could judge constructively from a distance but, following some good team meetings, a trial run and some guidance, Zoom came through.

"The team arranged for each of the competitors to work in front of two cameras, which gave us good front and side views of their knife skills.

"It worked really well.

"The competitors handled the situation well and their standards were high."

Keith added: "The competition this year was a real digital opportunity and as challenging for the judges as it was for the competitors!

"While it would have been great to be in the same room as the competitors, the digital set up did allow us to carry out a competition which otherwise would have been impossible."