Standing room only at party to thank retiring Highgate butcher

Heathman was just one of dozens of neighbours and friends who squeezed into a small cafe to thank a retiring master butcher for 30 years of serving the community.

It was standing room only at a packed party for Martin Leahy on Monday night, who closed popular butcher’s Elite Meats in Swain’s Lane, Highgate, on Saturday.

The 71-year-old butcher chose to hang up his apron for the last time after spiralling rents meant he could no longer afford to stay open.

Customers joined former staff members and friends at the celebration of his decades-long career at Kalendar café in Swain’s Lane.

Holly Lodge Estate resident Pippa Rothenburg, who helped to organise the party, said: “Martin was quite surprised at how many people turned up.

“I’ve used him as my butcher for the whole 30 years he’s been there.

“He’s a pillar of the community and that’s why we wanted to do something to recognise that.”

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Café owner Alex Dudnic provided drinks and nibbles for the party guests, who all chipped in to cover the cost of the celebration.

Any leftover money will be used to buy a retirement gift for Martin.

Dora Demetriou, hairdresser at Theo’s Hair Studio in Swain’s Lane, said: “We are very sad to see him go. He is not just my butcher but also my friend.

“We would love to thank him for all the years of him serving us with the meats, with very special cuts.

“And just to say thank you for being a friend and for being part of this community.”

Rob Schoenbeck, of Swain’s Lane, added: “Everyone is sorry to see him go but it’s understandable.

“He’s right to hang up his meat cleaver and get on with other things.

“We’re going to miss the shop.

“It’s another chink in the armour of the parade and we will have another empty shop.”