What a Ride Mate!
|The Mad Butcher and Prime Minister presenting proceeds for the sale of the book to the Breast Cancer Foundation and Allergy NZ
Hundreds of people were on hand to witness the launch of the new book What a Ride Mate!
The Life and Times of the Mad Butcher at the Ellerslie Convention Centre on Thursday night.
The biography of Peter Charles Leitch, QSM, written by leading sports journalist Phil Gifford, was launched by Prime Minster Helen Clark.
She was also able to present cheques for $12,500 to Allergy New Zealand and the Breast Cancer Society, with shares of the proceeds from the prject going to the groups.
The Mad Butcher told the audience he owed the charities a great deal since his own grandson Reuben had ad food allergies and his wife Janice was a breast cancer survivor.
Miss Clark said Mr Leitch had a heart of gold but was by no means a soft touch.
“We are all friends of Peter’s and he is a remarkable man, a man of character.”
His astonishing charity work meant a man from humble beginnings on the West Coast who had grown up in a working class family in Wellington’s Newtown, had gone on to build a business empire.
“No matter how well you think you know someone reading a biography always offers insights and Peter’s is a great story,” she said.
“His grandfather was Gummy and his father – who was blessed with ginger hair - was Bluey. So these were people from good working class stock.
“Peter battled through school at a time when we didn’t recognise learning difficulties, much less do anything about them, and he was probably left down the back because people thought he was a bit thick.
“But we know of course that he is anything but and his message is really that if you work at it you can build your dream.”
Miss Clark said Peter graduated to working as a telegram delivery boy before starting in butchery, but when he moved to Auckland he was a gravedigger at Purewa Cemetery.
|The Prime Minister and Mad Butcher picture with his granddaughter Kristin.
“He returned to butchery and opened a store in Mangere and the brand spread throughout the land in what is a truly great story.
“It is the story of a truly great kiwi character.”
Sports broadcaster Murray Deaker also paid tribute, acknowledging the Mad Butcher’s support during his own illness. “When I had my breakdown you were always there for me and that quality of loyalty is important to you.”
The Sky TV and Radio Sport broadcaster described his friend as having a healthy ego, being shrewd and sometimes even manipulative – but above all, never boring.
“He’s his own man and the book reflects that, because it is sincere and genuine.”
The TV personality said he had been teamed with the Butcher at a league event at a time when he was reading about the success stories of black athletes in America.
The Mad Butcher secured Deaker an interview with Gt Britain star Martin Offiah and he asked him as a black athlete how the game had been good to him?
|Graham Henry has a laugh while the Mad Butcher signs a book for him.
“Martin Offiah looked at me and said: My father is a doctor and my mother is a lawyer, what is the point of your question?
“Peter just looked at me and said: You *#*#*# that up Murray now who do you want next?”
He said the point was that the Butcher had simply moved on and put it behind him. “He has unique qualities, and everyone knows of his passion and commitment and I am proud tpo be called “mate”.
Vodafone Warrior Logan Swann wished the Butcher a happy 64th birthday and described him as a rock who lived by the old-fashioned belief that you should treat people as you wanted to be treated yourself.
“Everyone has words they use to describe Butch but if I had to chose one it would be ‘priceless’,” he said.
He told the audience that when he had played in England his phone would go and it would be Peter. How are you? Good, How’s the family? Good. Alright then, gotta go, see ya mate.”
“It used to make me laugh but it also touched me that he would make the effort and stay in touch and that is partly why all the boys at the club and in the Kiwis value his friendship so highly.”
Author Phil Gifford said he had enjoyed the project immensely and that the book was something like 83,000 words, although it would have been longer except he took all the swearing out.
Stricken with flu, Peter’s wife Janice was unable to attend, but she sent a message through Mr Gifford, saying that if people found the book as interesting as she had found living with him, they would enjoy it.
Thanking the guests and speakers the Mad Butcher said he was overwhelmed by the generosity shown to him.
“That a prime minister would make time available for an old leaguie says a lot and is very humbling,” he said.
While he was concerned he might be embarrassed if the book ended up on sale for “$1 at the Warehouse”, if no one wanted to buy it, he hoped that wouldn’t happen because he was proud to be able to donate the proceeds to charity.
“I am just a bloke who had a bit of luck and a lot of support from people along the way but I am proud of being able to help a few causes out along the way.”