Douglas Halley: Former Sheffield butcher at Castle Market and Stradbroke celebrates his 100th birthday

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He served generations of Sheffielders while working as a butcher for more than 50 years.

Today, Wednesday November 15, Douglas Halley is celebrating his 100th birthday. 

The world has changed a lot over the last century - when Douglas was born Stanley Baldwin was Prime Minister, George V was king, and the pandemic people spoke of was the Spanish flu.

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But even at 100 years old, Douglas, who lives in his own flat in the Norfolk Park area, remains the same cheeky and thoughtful character so many people knew him to be while he was a butcher in Sheffield for more than 50 years.

Douglas Halley, who was a butcher in Sheffield for half his life, has celebrated his 100th birthday.Douglas Halley, who was a butcher in Sheffield for half his life, has celebrated his 100th birthday.
Douglas Halley, who was a butcher in Sheffield for half his life, has celebrated his 100th birthday. | Dean Atkins

Days before his big day, Douglas took some time out to speak to The Star, and said he couldn’t wait to receive his card from King Charles III. 

He added: "If it wasn’t for my legs, I’d still be working."

The family man began his trade in his early teens with some part time work at Oliver's Butchers in Handsworth. After he left school at age 14, he then went on to work full-time. 

In 1944, Douglas received the call to enlist in the army and he went over to France on D-Day. Douglas served a total of eight years with the Royal Artillery, though his children say it’s a time in his life he has always remained private about, stating "anybody that ever talks about war has never seen action". 

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Douglas enlisted in the army during WW2, pictured in 1944.Douglas enlisted in the army during WW2, pictured in 1944.
Douglas enlisted in the army during WW2, pictured in 1944. | Dean Atkins

Back in Sheffield, Douglas met his late wife Jean while dancing at Dial House, a working men's club in Wisewood. Although he was too shy to talk to her, she thankfully broke the ice. They then went on to have their three children, Douglas "Dougie" Junior, Terry and Karina, and 27 happy years of marriage until Jean sadly passed away.

For many years, Douglas worked for George Hurst at Castle Market, where customers could buy or barter what they needed. His son, Dougie, now aged 68, fondly remembers watching his dad at work from the top of the steps with his grandma.

He then went on to work for Colin Thompson who had a shop in the Stradbroke area of Sheffield. In 1973, Colin decided to retire, and as Douglas, then aged 50, had worked there for a number of years, Colin let him buy the full building with live-in accommodation, garage, and the shop for £1,200 - which was "a lot of money in those days", Douglas said.

Douglas and his late wife Jean on their wedding day. Douglas and his late wife Jean on their wedding day.
Douglas and his late wife Jean on their wedding day. | Dean Atkins

To afford the sale, Douglas and his wife Jean had to sell their home on Bramley Lane in Handsworth - but it all paid off, and he was able to open a second shop in Gleadless, and another in Maltby. 

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Son Dougie told a story of when his dad mischievously tied a string of sausages to an unsuspecting customer’s trolley, causing a number of dogs to start following after her. 

He said: "He was the sort of chap where if people walked into the shop miserable at owt, he would make sure they walked out in laughter. 

"He looked after his customers, because they were his bread and butter at the end of the day."

Douglas, on the far right, while working at George Hurst in Caste Market. Douglas, on the far right, while working at George Hurst in Caste Market.
Douglas, on the far right, while working at George Hurst in Caste Market. | Dean Atkins

In 1989, Douglas retired and shortly moved to Skegness to be closer to his baby granddaughter Starr, and Karina. After breaking his hip at age 89, his youngest son Terry, 66, moved in to help care for him. Then a couple of years ago, he made his return to Sheffield.

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He now receives help from carers four times a day, and enjoys being taken out in a wheelchair-friendly van to browse the shops, feed the ducks at Rother Valley, and meeting with his sister Margaret in Costa.  

Karina, aged 53, a nurse at the Northern General Hospital, said: "He was renowned for his generosity and his kindness. He was, and still is, a very kind man. He would stay open late for one customer if they were going to be late from work, and it was acts like that that really got him his name."

On Friday, November 17, a number of friends, family members, and previous and current care staff will celebrate Douglas’ 100th birthday in style, with live entertainment from a singer and a pianist.

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