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Dylan is enjoying his new challenge

Manilla’s Dylan Walker is one of very few teenagers who have been fortunate enough to close the books on Year 12 studies and step straight into a fulltime apprenticeship.

The 18-year-old, who completed his secondary education at Manilla Central last year, has fitted in nicely at his new job as fulltime apprentice butcher at Manilla Meats.

Butchery manager Catherine Northey, who took over the reins of running the popular meat outlet following owner Rod Sevil’s retirement around 18 months ago, said that Dylan has just what it takes to be successful in his new vocation.

“He’s enthusiastic and keen to learn. He’s inquisitive and always asking questions and will do anything that’s asked of him, doesn’t mind doing the hard yards at all,” Catherine said.

Catherine too would know just what the hard yards were. She’s been in the business of breaking down and serving up various cuts of meat for 25 years, completing her trade while still in New Zealand.

“Butchering is a good life– a good life skills job. It not only teaches how best to cut certain meats, but also how to cook it. And it’s always something you can come back to, you can take it anywhere with you and it’s a greatthing to know, even in general life.”

RodSevil, who pops into the shop on occasions and still helps with the meat buying, said that Dylan was the fifth apprentice to be taught the trade in his 23 years behind the counter of Manilla Meats.

“It’s a three-year course where the TAFE teacher visits the shop here every seven weeks to assess the apprentice,” he said.

Dylan though had no thoughts of becoming a butcher as a youngster going through school.

“The job was going when I left school, and I’m really enjoying it. I like the idea of learning about the different cuts of meat, and one of my uncles is stoked I’ve taken on butchering – he has a property close by,” he joked.

Dylan has already been elbow-deep in learning the finer points of making sausages – though admits that he’d had a couple of untidy sessions before obtaining the knack of snag-making, completing customer orders and breaking up bodies along with delivering meat to Barraba on every other day.

“I like breaking up the bodies best, there’s just so much to learn about it.”

Though on the weekends, Dylan replaces his butcher’s apron for footy boots and sock to run onto either the rugby league or touch footy paddock.

This season he’s signed up to play with Manilla Tigers’ rugby league open side.

“We didn’t have much of a season last year because of the Covid, but I did play with the Under 18 North Tamworth Bears the previous year, and we won our grand final. And we’ve got our touch footy grand final at Barraba this weekend,”Dylan said last week.