TRIBUTES have poured in following the death of one of the region’s best-known butchers who became president of the industry’s national federation.

Bryan Cockburn, 82, from Bedale, built up one of the most renowned independent butchers shops in the North but also played a major role in promoting and supporting the industry nationally.

He was a National Craft Butchers Life Hon Vice President, past National Federation of Meat and Food Traders President, Fellow of the Institute of Meat and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Butchers in London.

The Liverymen are Freemen of the City of London and Mr Cockburn regularly joined them in bringing traffic to a standstill in the capital so they could mark their ancient right to drive sheep to market.

The trade was in his blood, his grandfather ran a village butchers shop and he started his training before doing National Service with the Green Howards, completing it with Taylors of Darlington.

After a brief time with Fawcett’s of Richmond he bought an ailing business for £800 in Bedale and with his wife Eileen and their four sons built it up into the thriving shop it is today.

A keen farmer Mr Cockburn was immensely proud after building up his own herd of Highland Cattle, selling the meat in his shop.

But in 2002 after the outbreak of foot and mouth on neighbouring land the beloved herd had to be destroyed.

The Chief Executive Officer of National Craft Butcher Roger Kelsey, said: "Bryan always believed there was a place for the independent retail butcher for those who diversified and changed with the times.

"He always said butchery had been good to him."

Former editor of Meat Management Pam Brook said: "He certainly gave back to the meat trade in spades.

"Bryan was a warm, fun loving and gentle man. One of Yorkshire’s finest. He will be missed by many."

Mr Cockburn was also a keen supporter of his hometown, telling many new business people "Be good to Bedale and Bedale will be good to you."

He was a town councillor for 12 years, governor of local schools, and a former chair of the sports centre and the Chamber of Trade, as well as a volunteer at the Tourist Information Centre.

Mr Cockburn was also a member of the Rolls Royce Enthusiasts club, the Highland Cattle Society and the Royal Smithfield Club.

There was standing room only at the funeral service held at St Gregory’s Church in Bedale, which was followed by a private cremation.