BRITAIN has its youngest ever Fish Craftsman of the Year. He is 19-year-old George Hooper, who took the top prize at the 2015 British Fish Craft Championships held in the Grimsby resort town of Cleethorpes over the weekend.
He also picked up an unexpected bonus by winning an all expenses trip to Norway to see for himself how the country has built such an impressive fishing industry.
The prize was donated by Magnus Skretting of Marine Harvest Sterling White Halibut and a similar visit has also gone to Cardiff fishmongers E. Ashton, which provided last year’s champion.
George, who entered the contest last year and did well, said he and his family were ‘absolutely delighted’ at his success, adding that he was looking forward to visiting Norway.
It was also a fitting start to his new business. George and his parents, Gary and Caroline Hooper, have just opened a new fresh fish shop in the centre of Bedford (GHC Fishmongers).
Gary is a former president of the National Federation of Fishmongers, which has been organising the contest for the past 60 years.
He said: ‘The federation has around 1,200 members and our numbers are growing. People are getting tired of the big supermarkets. They prefer a nice friendly face at the counter – someone they can talk to.’
This is the second year in succession that the championships have come to the Grimsby and Cleethorpes area.
Gary said: ‘We have been given a fantastic reception and great support from the local council and industry, particularly from Steve and Richard Stansfield at Flatfish, Martin Boyers from the fish market and Chris Sparkes from the Grimsby FMA and Jaines & Son.’
Next year the contest moves to Fishmongers Hall in London, when it will be open to overseas teams from Norway and France for the first time.
But Gary insisted: ‘We will definitely be coming back to Grimsby and Cleethorpes in the not too distant future.’