Burringbar butcher 'meats' community sporting needs
THE village butcher usually holds an important role in a community, dealing with the comings and goings of residents buying their meat for the week.
But you'd be hard-pressed to find a butcher quite like Brett O'Keefe, a Burringbar resident who puts his heart and soul into his job and his community.
This community spirit was recognised when Brett received the Burringbar Citizen of the Year award during this year's Tweed Shire Council Australia Day celebrations.
The anonymous nomination was well-received by the community, who showed their appreciation on social media for Brett and his passion for the local Waratah Hockey Club, where he is the president.
For the past four years, Brett has been working alongside club board members to get children involved in the sport.
"We try to keep juniors playing the sport and keep raising money for our club,” he said.
"We're trying to get sponsorship for our club because our sport isn't a very rich sport, it doesn't make a lot of money compared to all the other sports.
"We're trying to cover costs in terms of turf fees - that runs into a fair bit of money for families.
"If we can cut the costs down, hopefully we can attract them to play the sport and keep them in the game.”
Starting the sport in his teens, hockey runs in Brett's family, with his mother, father and grandfather and now his children all playing for local teams.
Brett's lifelong love of the sport and his determination to keep the club going has led him to create hockey clinics at Burringbar Public School.
"Kids benefit from team sport. There's things you get out of team sports that you just can't get out of anything else in life,” Brett said.
"Until you experience it, you don't realise what you can get out of it.
"If they start working as a team, they then learn those skills to trust other people and work together.”
When he's not on the hockey field, Brett's busy behind his butcher counter serving customers who travel as far as Brisbane to Ballina to taste his homemade sausages, kebabs, rissoles and beef patties.
It's not hard to see how much of an asset Brett is to the community when every few minutes the door swings open with another hungry customer Brett knows by name looking for suggestions on what to cook for dinner.
Growing up in Mooball, Brett started at the Burringbar Quality Meats butcher shop as a 15-year-old apprentice.
"My old boss was Laurie Reading. When he retired I bought the place off him,” Brett said.
"I worked with him for about 10 years and I've been here ever since.”
Brett said he loved working in the butchery, which was still the original building moved from upper Burringbar in 1962.
"I wouldn't be in so long if I didn't,” Brett said.
"I enjoy serving people, I don't mind talking. I like the area, I've got three boys and they love growing up here, just like I did.”