Hartlepool fishmonger who ‘doesn’t like fish at all’ named as country’s best in prestigious competition at Billingsgate Fish Market

Fishmonger of the year Alan Barker from Hodgson Fish holding a Stone Bass alongside his winners shield. Picture by FRANK REID
Fishmonger of the year Alan Barker from Hodgson Fish holding a Stone Bass alongside his winners shield. Picture by FRANK REID

A Hartlepool fishmonger gutted the competition to be named the best in his profession in the country - despite admitting: “I don’t like fish at all.”

Andrew Barker, 39, has been in the trade for almost 15 years and for the past decade he has been striving to win the prestigious tournament, which is held at the world famous Billingsgate Fish Market in London.

Fishmonger of the year Alan Barker from Hodgson Fish at work. Picture by FRANK REID

Fishmonger of the year Alan Barker from Hodgson Fish at work. Picture by FRANK REID

The win is the culmination of a long-held ambition of Andrew’s.

“I’ve been going down to compete for a few years now so to win is an amazing feeling,” said the 39-year-old, of Roseberry Road.

“There were five different rounds, cutting different pieces of fish and different ways of cutting them.

“I didn’t expect to win at all to be honest.

Fishmonger of the year Alan Barker from Hodgson Fish at work. Picture by FRANK REID

Fishmonger of the year Alan Barker from Hodgson Fish at work. Picture by FRANK REID

“But the results came out and I got first place in three rounds and second place in two.”

Andrew was previously a chef in the Army but left due to health problems related to his hands.

As well as serving as a postal courier in the Forces, he later worked on the fish counter at Tesco before M&J Seafood at Peterlee took him on as a fishmonger.

He is now with Hodgson Fish, which operates out of the Headland and also has a shop in Whitby Street in Hartlepool.

Fishmonger of the year Alan Barker from Hodgson Fish at work. Picture by FRANK REID

Fishmonger of the year Alan Barker from Hodgson Fish at work. Picture by FRANK REID

“It’s ideal for me to work there as it’s only three miles from my house,” added Andrew, who is married to Rhian, 39, and also has children Robert, 13, and Carys, eight.

He has already set his sights on making 2019 another successful year.

“As a fishmonger you look to be the best that you can be, or at least I think you should anyway.

“Now I’ve won this I’m going to try my hardest to keep it by defending the title next year.

Fishmonger of the year Alan Barker from Hodgson Fish (left) is presented with his shield by Alan Hodgson. Picture by FRANK REID

Fishmonger of the year Alan Barker from Hodgson Fish (left) is presented with his shield by Alan Hodgson. Picture by FRANK REID

“I’ll prove it isn’t a fluke!”

Despite being a dab hand at slicing up fish, Andrew hasn’t opted to celebrate his win by eating any.

“I don’t like fish at all,” he said.

“When you work with it every single day, it’s not something you want to eat.

“I do like the odd battered cod sometimes, but I prefer a nice juicy steak more than anything.”