When chips are down, Babbacombe fryer David Hanbury batters on
DAVID Hanbury has celebrated the 30th anniversary of being in business in Torbay in the generous fashion which has been such a hallmark of his outstanding personal contribution to the local community.
A keen supporter of Rowcroft Hospice, he offered fish and chip deals with cash going to the hospice as part of its Dine at Mine fundraising campaign.
Hanbury’s Fish and Chip Restaurant is probably best known as a regular winner of the best in the South West award for the best fish and chips. They have won it for the last two years and eight times, in all, since 1988.
Through involvement in the increasingly popular summer Babbacombe Festival Hanbury's has raised tens of thousands of pounds for charities.
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Being part of the community is why David still loves being in the business.
"I still really enjoy it, it is my lifestyle. I have some great staff. Without them the shop wouldn't be as good. They have been very supportive.
"We get involved with the Babbacombe Festival and this year did the Rat Pack Las Vegas night and fish and chips on the Downs.
"With Martyn Strange, and thanks to sponsors, we raised £16,000 for the fantastic Torbay Holiday Helpers Network and £790 for the Fishermen's Mission.
"We wanted to mark the fact we have been in Princes Road for 30 years and the shop has been selling fish and chips for 90 years this year. It must be one of the oldest fish and chip shops in Torbay.
"We would like to think we could raise £3,000.
"Over the years we have raised about £25,000 for Rowcroft. I think what they are doing at Rowcroft is fantastic and they have been going some 30 years now. "
When David's wife Maureen died three years ago, Hanbury's raised £8,500 for the Rikki Grant ward at the Torbay Hospital, with the help of the League of Friends. The money was used to replace the chairs which Maureen had said were too uncomfortable for people waiting for chemotherapy.
They have also raised £20,000 for the Fishermen's Mission.
David is a keen supporter of the Torbay Holiday Helpers Network, too.
"They have had 200 families staying over the past 18 months and some get a takeaway, or meal, on the house as part of our support. I have met some of the families, children who are terminally ill or parents who have lost children.
"It's great to be part of this charity which gives people a respite and a break from all their problems."
It was a recession which triggered a change of career for David, in 1979. He worked with his father in precision engineering at the family's Hanbury Engineering firm in Newton Abbot, before taking on the fish and chip shop.
"David and Ann Warn, who sold it, were very good to me. David worked on with me every Friday for a couple of years as he liked the business."
In the early 1980s the business had to cope with the introduction of 15 per cent VAT.
"We were simply expected to recoup it from our customers," he said. "It was a real knock back, and it still cost thousands of pounds.
He added: "We hit another recession in the 1990s. But fish and chips were quite resilient then.
"Now, there is no sign of growth in the business and a lot of fish and chip shops are struggling, though I think anyone doing quality is doing all right."
Hanbury's expanded, buying the freehold of the property nearby and opening a restaurant in 1997.
"It took a long time to take off. But now you struggle to get in there some nights," said David.
"The main thing about it is attention to detail. You have to be a bit of a fusspot about what you do. Only buy the right ingredients."
He said more customers were voicing concern about fish stocks and Hanbury's is a member of the Marine Conservation Society.
"Cod quotas are going up 25 per cent next year. The cod seems to be surviving better. The conservation measures put in place ten years ago seem to have really worked.
And he believes there is a good future for fish and chips, despite the looming potato shortage.
"I think it has a great future. There are a lot of advances. Ranges cook at very high temperatures, oil is carbon filtered. "Fish and chips are a lot healthier than they were."