Obituary: John Mabb
Meat Management is very sad to report the recent death of John Mabb aged 72.
Before his retirement in 2014, in his role as UK manager and latterly director for Meat New Zealand, John Mabb was a well-known and prominent figure, highly regarded across the UK meat industry.
He was a Liveryman with the Worshipful Company of Butchers having joined the WCB in January 1990. He also played an active role in the Taurus Masonic Lodge that is based at Butchers Hall and was a past secretary.
Born in Chatham in 1950, the son of a builder and the eldest of two brothers by some 15 years, at age 11 he attended the Widerness Secondary Modern School in Sevenoaks before moving on to Tunbridge Wells Technical High School.
He was a keen sportsman and played both rugby and soccer, and was a 100 and 200 yards sprinter.
His ambitions to become a vet were thwarted when he missed a grade on one of his A Levels, but not one to stand still, he went to North East London Polytechnic (Now the University of East London) and read applied biology in a four year honours degree, with a one year sandwich, which by chance opened the door to and an interest in the meat industry.
John went on an assignment to the Meat Research Institute at Langford for his project year which he enjoyed and where he met a variety of characters that influenced him.
After returning to the Polytechnic and completing his degree course, he eventually secured a job at the Milk Marketing Board as a bacteriologist, before moving on to Bowyers as a quality control supervisor at Trowbridge.
In 1977, John left Bowyers to take up the appointment of technical manager at Scot Meats of Bletchley, working for Michael Katz for two years or so before being head hunted by Danepak based at Thetford.
Out of the blue John received an approach from the New Zealand Meat Board who, at the time was looking for a technical manager and he got the job. A period of change and reorganisation meant that John, along with colleague Stewart Pope were left in limbo for a number of months and the two of them decided to take the initiative started to contact and sell to various retailers. In 1988, John moved from technical to commercial and this was his big break.
Becoming involved with research, catering, advertising and promotion, when Allan Frazer moved on from being European director and handed over to Neil Taylor based in Brussels, John was asked to head up the London office as UK director. The rest, as they say is history.
John also took an active interest in training and education and was involved with various initiatives and was active with the Institute of Meat for some years.
Speaking with columnist Raymond Monbiot back in 1994, when interviewed for Meat & Poultry News, John confirmed his view on subsidies and felt that Britain could learn a great deal from the co-operative systems in Denmark and New Zealand. Prophetic words now that Britain is firmly in the post-Brexit era.
John will be sadly missed by many colleagues and friends. Commenting on LinkedIn Ali Spencer, the former editor of MeatExportsNZ was typical saying: “I was very sad to hear that former colleague John Mabb passed away peacefully in Winchester, UK, at the weekend.
“John first joined the NZ Meat Producers Board in 1986 as UK technical manager and spent 28 years with the organisation until his eventual retirement in 2014.
“He was a knowledgeable colleague, widely respected by his many contacts and peers in the New Zealand and British meat trade, and was a witty, kind and thoughtful friend to many. John leaves his devoted wife Liz, sons Simon and Richard and their families. RIP John – you will be missed.”
Graham Yandell, the managing editor and publisher of Meat Management magazine added: “John was a highly respected man and someone I had the pleasure of knowing and working with for 40 years or so. He was great company and extremely knowledgeable.
“He also did some outstanding work helping and encouraging young people through the Scouting movement and was a lifelong leader in the Scouting Association.
“John and his wife Liz have for some time sponsored a child in India – and I happen to know that he always sent all his WCB 200 club winnings to him and fortunately John was a regular winner!
“A thoroughly likeable and honourable man. We have lost another champion of the trade and I shall remember him with great fondness and the many good times we shared together over the years.”