Telford woman shows courage to build family business after husband's death

Do you think you could carry on a business set up by your husband after he died on the site?

Meet Kay Badley. This incredible Telford woman has faced adversity, emotional turmoil and been outright out of her depth - but through it all she has faced life with a smile and a friendly word.

Her husband Keith set up G.N. Badley & Sons butchers in Gibbons Road, Trench, in 1976 along with his father Gordon. She met him two years later and within a year they were married.

“I didn’t know anything about a butchers before I met Keith but his dad had done it all his life,” she said.

“He was from Wolverhampton so I didn’t know about him until I met him in the labour club nearby.

“At the time I was working at Halfords as a sales assistant, I helped out at the butchers and learnt as I went along.”

Kay, now 54, moved on to work as a pharmacy assistant at Boots in Telford Town Centre during which time the couple had a son, Simon, before she joined the family business in 1991.

She said: “Some couples can’t work together but I loved working with Keith, I didn’t do full time so that probably helped.
“Our personalities were just totally different, we bounced off each other.

“The customers loved it, they really loved Keith to bits.”

But in 2011 Keith was serving at the counter, having a laugh and a joke with his loyal customers as he did every day, when he collapsed. He suffered a fatal heart attack and was pronounced dead at New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton.

That week he hadn’t felt well, thinking he was coming down with the flu, but he carried on working.

“He went into the back and the next time he came back to the front he said he had a pain in his chest,” Kay remembers.

“I asked him on a scale of 1-10 how much it hurt and he said 90, so I called 999.

“He had one heart attack in the shop and another on the operating table at hospital.
“Within four hours he had died.”

That evening the family gathered around. While many people may want to turn away from the family business which held so many happy - and now haunting - memories, Kay and Simon simply carried on. She threw herself into her work and became committed to making this butchers the best around.

She said: “I remember asking Simon what the hell we were going to do and he said simply ‘fight for it’.

“It wasn’t really a decision, I don’t remember ever thinking ‘should I do it?’ - we just did.

“It was hard initially but because I had to get up the following morning and open up, that’s what I needed to get through.”

Every day Kay stands behind the same counter and still lives in the flat above where she and Keith brought their son home to and watched him grow up.

“I have never felt out of sorts at all, in the business or home,” she added.

“It is just our home, that’s it.

“I know some people can’t go into rooms or something, but I have never felt that.”
Kay now has 24 years in the butchery industry and is doing everything in her power to move the business forward and make it grow.

She has had training and learnt over the years just how diverse the butchery industry is. Despite never experiencing anything like this until meeting keith, her passion comes from knowing what is involved in butchery from when a body of beef is delivered to how it ends up on the counter.

As operations director a typical day now involves liaising with staff on orders, answering phones, completing paperwork, keeping on top of all cooked items and ensure all staff are happy.

She added: “When Keith died I realised just how little I actually knew about the business.
“Yes, I’d worked there for years and I knew a lot about it - but actually running it was a different matter.
“My son Simon became managing director and he has been great, helping me bring it into the 21st century.

“We’re a good team now and he is an excellent business manager - we have orders online, new apps and other technology that I wouldn’t have dreamt about.

“Keith would be so proud of him and the work he puts in.

“At the end of the day, we have to be there for our customers.”

For more information on the latest products from G. N. Badley & sons call 0808 901 2110, email [email protected] or visit the website www.gnbadleyandsons.co.uk.

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