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David Lidgate 1940 - 2024

It was with great sadness we learned of the death earlier this week of Q Guild founding member David Lidgate - a truly inspirational gentleman, known and respected throughout our industry. Our sincere condolences to the Lidgate family. Below is a transcript of the announcement from the family business C. Lidgate website written by David's son, Danny Lidgate.

April 4, 2024 Danny Lidgate

David Lidgate 1940 - 2024

We are sorry to say that this week my father, David Lidgate, passed away after a long illness. For many years he was the face and energy of our business and will be greatly missed by myself, my brother and mother and I know, by many of our customers who he loyally served for decades.

David was born in 1940. He was a keen rugby player but had to give the sport up when his own father died so he could take over the business.

He was driven to make it the best butcher's in London and to ensure that Lidgates became not just a family run business, but that every customer also felt they were part of an extended family, who we were proud to serve.

And it wasn’t just our own butcher’s that he wanted to see meet the highest of standards. He was a founding member of the Q Guild of Butchers which made a significant impact on improving the whole industry - demonstrated by the hundreds of messages of condolences received from former employees and his butchery peers.

He helped the business win an array of Great Taste Awards over the years, but one of the one he was most proud of was the Great Taste Lifetime Achievement Award , providing a testament to both him and the team he lead which took their inspiration from his dedication and skills.

Although he stepped away from the business more than 10 years ago he maintained a keen interest in butchery right through his recent illness.

He took pride in his legacy and the continued success of the store and that is something my brother and I know our whole team, are committed to continue.

David always said that working with meat isn’t a job, it’s a way of life – and he said “I was born to it.” As a toddler, he remembered looking up at the sausage machine and being absolutely riveted.

As a youth he worked in the shop on Saturdays, but the business was struggling, and he was keen to do something other than join the family business and wanted to play rugby. But when his own father died he gave himself 18 months to learn as much about the industry as he could. It was a total culture shock, he said, working from 4.30am, in all weathers, hauling 170lb hind quarters.

He realised things had to change at the shop and he told us that he was actually on holiday with his rugby friends in Austria when he had a eureka moment.

“One evening, after a rather bloody wrist-wrestling competition with some locals, I got talking to a young man who, like me, had just taken over the family business and he offered to introduce me to his cousin, who was a butcher. His shop turned out to be unlike anything I’d ever seen. Back in England, it was all crash-bash in those days, but this place was immaculate: small cuts of meat laid out on steel trays, salamis hanging around the walls, and in the back, they must have had £10,000 worth of machinery. It was like a laboratory: they were manufacturing sausages and absolutely no meat was wasted. A lot of people thought the industry would follow the American way of doing things – mass production and supermarkets – but I thought then, this is the future: it’ll be more Continental and it won’t be enough to sell meat, we’ve got to start making things too.”

David always said that we are only as good as the meat we serve. That meant personally selecting from suppliers we trust, whether it’s lamb from a farm in the Shetlands where sheep have grazed on the same iron-rich hills since the Stone Age, or the newest Wagyu beef from the country’s only pedigree herd.

We analyse our meat scientifically, but the quality is something you can feel when you touch it and taste even when it’s raw.

Dad said that “They say the meat trade is in the blood and, now that my sons are taking over from me, I know it’s true.”

It is in that spirit that we will remember him every day and serve his memory well in the dedication to the tradition he created and we strive to continue.