BUSINESS is booming for a Leigh fisherman after a surge in demand since he started offering deliveries to customers during lockdown - and he’s won the attention of celebrity chef John Torode.

Sean West, who owns Abbie Lou Fresh Local Fish, has even managed to open his own shop in Old Leigh, which launches today.

He also filmed a segment on ITV’s This Morning earlier this week out on his fishing boat with Masterchef star, John Torode.

Sean connected with a national campaign - Fish Local - which launched following the coronavirus pandemic, to keep the Essex and Kent fishing industry afloat.

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Due to the pandemic, all major international and national markets for fish and shellfish have closed, or are limited, as 80 per cent of Essex and Kent fishermen’s catch goes to foreign markets.


Distanced - Sean talking to the Masterchef host

Fish Local connects fish buyers with fisherman so they can buy direct rather than from a supermarket.

The project caught the attention of This Morning and Sean was put forward to feature live on the show on his boat Abbie Lou.

The 29-year-old, who used to supply the Belgium fish market through a supplier in Kent, is now focusing on providing fish directly to the community.

He said: “Because of this coronavirus outbreak I’ve been working really, really hard and through Fish Local I was put forward to be on the show as they thought I deserved to be on there.

“I’ve been offering contactless deliveries since the start of it and I’m not getting up to 100 orders a week.


At work - John Torode cooking with Sean's fish

“Since lockdown I’ve tried to sell as much as I can locally, and whatever excess I have that still goes on the market in Europe, but the more I can sell locally, the better.”

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He added: “People enjoy it – I can’t keep up with the amount of fish I’m selling now – fishing has gone a bit slow and I keep getting more and more orders.

“Some have said it’s the best fish they’ve ever eaten.

The dad-of-two added: “John Torode was a lovely bloke - very down to earth. It was a bit nerve-racking being live on the telly but a really good experience.


Meeting - The Masterchef host also met Sean's wife Kayley and son Frankie

“I got the call and spoke to the producer and five days later I was there filming.

“My Facebook has been going mad since.”

Sean’s shop, Abbie Lou, launches today at Old Leigh at a former fish shop which was then turned into a processing factory 30 years ago.

The fisherman has been in the industry since he was 17 with the family business going back 200 years.

He added: “I started skippering this boat, Abbie Lou, which is named after my sister, when I was 17 for my dad and ended up buying it a couple of years ago to start my own company.

“Now me and my wife Kayley are partnering up with my dad to start our new shop.

“We thought about opening a shop a couple of years ago and we never done it but now that I’ve seen a demand for how many people do love fresh local fish we thought this is a as good a time to get it open.”