Burnley butcher’s cancer shock

Stephen Berkins who will be closing his butchers shop next weekend due to illness.

Stephen Berkins who will be closing his butchers shop next weekend due to illness.

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Award-winning butcher Stephen Berkins is closing his Rosegrove shop after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The 51-year-old father-of-two has been greeting customers of Berkins Butchers with a smile since he was 10 years old.

However, on Saturday, July 19th, he will open his doors for the last time as he retires because of a devastating illness he has been battling for months.

“It’s going to be a really sad day and there’s going to be a lot of tears,” said Stephen, who lives in Worsthorne with his partner Helen. “I didn’t expect to be retiring when I was 51 and if I was I would have hoped it would have been because I had made my money.”

Stephen, who has an 18-year-old son, Patrick, and a 23-year-old daughter, Georgina, was diagnosed with melanoma cancer in September after finding a mole on his back. By November the cancer had spread and before Christmas he was told there would be no point in operating on it. Last month he was told it had spread to his brain and that is when he decided to retire.

“When it spreads to your brain, that’s an instant driving ban. It’s been getting harder to work anyway but with not being able to drive it’s almost impossible.”

Doctors have told him he has under a year to live and he now wants to spend that time with his family.

“I expected to carry on working so I don’t really know what to do. We’re planning to go away on a cruise in August. Because of the medication I’m on I can’t go in the sun or have a drink so it’s difficult.

“It has started to sink in. Part of me still think’s everything is going to be OK and I’ll come through it but I know I’m not.”

The shop has been sold but Stephen does not think it will remain a butchers.

“It’s a shame because it has been a butchers for 70 years. My grandad, Frank, opened it in 1944. My dad, Kenneth, then took it over and I’ve had it now for 15 years. I’ve worked here since I left school when I was 16, in fact I started helping when I was 10.”

In a letter displayed on the shop counter he thanks his customers for the support they have shown him.

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