The big award-winner on the night at the recent Banbridge and District Business Awards was local business man Jim Quail.
He collected the Lifetime Achievement award jointly sponsored by Banbridge Chamber of Commerce and William Bell & Co Funeral Directors.
Telling the crowd of Jim’s years of success Mr. John Dobson said Jim graduated from Green Mount College in the late 60s with the intention of taking up, his first love, farming at the home farm at Lenaderg.
Late 1960’s early 19770’s he was working with cattle, pigs and pedigree Hampshire Down sheep. He had fantastic success winning the Royal Dublin Show a record number of times.
His Father, Joe Quail Snr. had other ideas and got Jim in to help out in the butcher’s shop. In 1972 Jim married Brydlyn and moved to Tullyear to set up and farm there
Mid 1970’s Joe Snr retired and Jim took over the running of the Newry Street shop.
In 1974, still running the farms at Lenaderg and Tullyear, Jim was one of the first farmers to import Charolais cattle into NI.
Jim continued to improve the butcher’s shop, always buying cattle and sheep from farmers in the local area.
In the mid 80’s, as consumer tastes changed, with the help of his wife Brydlyn’s who was a catering lecturer, they started to make delicatessen produce in the shop such as salads, pies, ham and cooked meats.
In 1990 he sold his successful Hampshire Down flock and Charolais flocks to help buy Donaghys shop in Newry Street. This enabled him to treble the size of Quails and set up the food hall as the business developed more and more of the delicatessen range.
In 1996 Jim opened Quails first coffee shop.
A great highlight of Jim’s farming and butchering career was when he was asked to judge the fat stock show at the Royal Smithfield show in London.
1998 was Quails Centenary year. Unfortunately they didn’t get to celebrate as a bomb went off in August, destroying the business and the building where Joe Snr had been born. Jim reopened the business in November in Fuscos’ property in Newry Street.
After much planning the business was reopened in May 2000 in a new purpose built shop on the original site
In October 2004, Jim’s son Joe Quail joined his dad to help manage and run the business.
In 2008 Jim and Joe opened Quails at the Gallery in the Council’s new F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio.
Quails Fine Foods has now been trading in Banbridge for 115 years.
Today they employ over 30 staff, with many of the team having been with them for very long periods.
Last year Dympna Hillen celebrated 40 years with Quails and Damien, Joan and Jenny have all worked in the business for over 20 years.
Jim still buys all the cattle for the business from local farmers and continues to provide customers with the guarantee of quality beef from the field to the fork.
He still loves his pedigree cattle and has continued to work through difficult farming periods and has overcome some serious set backs such as the farm fire in 2012.
He has continued to improve his herd and last year was delighted that his home bred bull Lynderg Hero, at a year old, won 10 championships at four shows including Balmoral and Castwellan.