2 weeks today and fishmongers both independent and retail will be congratulating each other on another year well done. I don’t even think about the word “commiserate”. To get to that point of competing in the championships is a momentous step and if you come away with a trophy, Crystal ware or any other award is a huge bonus.
That’s what I think anyway. In previous blogs I’ve written about the importance of the British Fish Craft Championships, what the championships mean and even a countdown to last year’s championships.
I was so honoured to have received the (to give it it’s official title) Golden Jubilee Perpetual Challenge Cup sponsored by The SeaFish Industry Authority last year. In the past week I’ve lovingly given it a good polish with top quality silver polish and even given the base a coat of varnish. I can’t help but be proud of having my name engraved on there along with others. Especially as 2014 Dina Marie Lewis won it, a friend from Tesco in Manchester. 2015 my friend Amanda Wheeldon was the winner, my roomie and fellow girly fishmonger from a Tesco now in the West Midlands.
Then there’s me for 2016. I entered myself in as an independent fishmonger and there was no way I wasn’t going to enter. I thought the same for this year, I have to take the trophy back anyway, but even then I’d have still entered. As it is I’m very grateful to be one of the six making up this year’s Tesco Fish Craft Team.
I always remember last year being prodded by my best friend Nicola saying it was my name that had been called out for the trophy. It wasn’t that I hadn’t heard the lovely Mr Alun Tandy announcing my name, it just didn’t sink in! Then collecting the trophy from Mr Marcus Coleman, CEO of SeaFish Authority and then everything was a blur! After having many photos taken, with me grinning like a Cheshire cat, we all made our way back to the hotel.
I also remember Amanda throwing her arms round me and telling me how proud she was of me, I don’t even think I let go of the award! Then I got to my room, screamed a bit, ran round the room laughing and had a cry! Slightly emotional!
But that was the biggest award I’d ever won, ever.
I’ve said before that I’m not the most confident people. I spend most of my time worrying that people will get fed up of seeing my fish counter displays on Facebook or Twitter, eye roll as they see them and think “Oh, she’s at it again!” For the past two months, working at the Royal Agricultural Shows around the country and the many experiences myself, Nicola and Gavin had, I worried that people would get very tired of them.
At work, the wall at the side of my fish counter is almost completely full of certificates. Even as I write it it feels as though I’m bragging! But someone has said to me that they are there as recognition for the work you’ve done. They are to show that you are a trained fishmonger. I’m always proud to have my Federation Of Fishmongers certificate on the wall to, to show that I’m an associate member of the NFF.
That SeaFish trophy means a lot more to me than just silver and wood. Sometimes if I doubt my ability in what I do, or have a rough day on the counter (it does happen) I give the trophy a bit of a polish and remember exactly how I felt when I was handed it.
The basis for the award was not in a particular category, but by being chosen by judges who were in the audience. Professionalism, manner, personality and character is what the judges look for.
Another winner who’s name is engraved on the base is Andrew Barker. He is one of the nicest, maybe slightly crazy (!) Fishmongers I know. But then you watch him work and he is one of the best. That’s what I aspire to be. I’ll have only been a trained fishmonger officially 3 years in December, but I feel I’ve achieved a fair bit, more than I ever thought possible. Its one’s like Andrew, Michael Crates, Dave Bennett, George and Gary Hooper to name just a very few, who I look up too and aspire to work towards.
So this year, as always I will work hard in my categories, 1 category is completely new to me, The Sterling White Halibut Championship…that should be fun! And of course I will be trying my best on the Flatfish Traditional Fish Of The Sea Championship. I’m just aiming to at least get that Lemon Sole pocketed before the time runs out!
All that is what that trophy means to me, a lot more than just silver and wood and maybe even more of an achievement than I realised.