1st December – Advent and after lock down – almost!

2020 is not a year most people will wish to recall with any affection. However, it is a year to come together and value what is important in our lives. For gamekeepers, many have carried on their work with interruptions along the way, whether being furloughed or shooting stopped or travelling banned. We are a resilient bunch in the main, manage to see the positives in most situations and let’s face it we are most fortunate to live where we do and have the freedom to get out and about even in the most stringent lock downs. We are also realistic and know that we will need our gamekeeping community to pull together as we go forward as never before.

There are clouds gathering on the horizon which is causing many of us to look up and wonder what will happen next, whether the impending licensing of grouse moors in Scotland which opens the door to further targeting of our legitimate controls, re-wilding and all that entails for red deer, our most iconic species. Distant clouds for example, the lead shot issue, pheasant release sites and many other issues which our shooting organisations are challenging. Corvid 19 will have its casualties in terms of jobs and shoots either for the short term or long term, but we are passionate people in the countryside, look after each other and keep each other going. The Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust is part of that family and working hard to help individuals where it is needed. We will win through.

Our counselling service is an initiative we are proud of and hope it will make a real difference to individuals who are struggling for whatever reason. We are constantly looking at new ways to help, but our ability to provide a confidential service which is free, and not reliant on membership is our strength but also our weakness in reaching those who may need us. For this we need our Raising the Game Partners, BASC, BGA, CA, CLA, DS, GWCT, NGO, SACS, SGA and SLE. We are not a membership body, totally independent of any organisation and work with everyone to improve lives.

To demonstrate that support and most immediately in Scotland, I am planning a walk from our home in Glenshee to Holyrood ( minimum of 90 miles) in the Spring if it is safe to do so. I realise my long trip (Conquering Castles) will need to be postponed a little longer. Watch this space for further detail as and when we know more.

In the meantime stay safe and stay well and look after each other and for those who can resume shooting tomorrow – I hope you are using our GWT flags!