August - heather and host
July went out with a heat wave and August came in with the eagerly awaited heather bloom to follow. Our "glorious grouse" have encountered different and varying difficulties from predation (increasing), to a reduction in nutrition where heather beetle has taken a hold and particularly dry conditions early on in some places too. Upland keepers and managers are also working on dealing with social distancing and where shooting is going ahead it is likely that beaters will be fitter than ever by the end of the season! Back to the old days perhaps... but patience will be required all the way round too and hosts will need to be fully aware of the "new normal".
The Gamekeepers' Welfare Trust is also working on dealing with a myriad of challenges which affect keepers and their families and are following up on the survey which highlighted the need for more information on housing related issues, working with stress, and financial planning and retirement planning. We have webinars and fact sheets available and in progress and the Stag and Hind course are running on line (though we can still hold the Stag Training at a venue suitable).
Jamie's helpline and grant system remain our core support service and we are taking on new volunteers in anticipation of increasing need.
Thank you to everyone who is or has supported us; it is still the Year of the Gamekeeper and we are grateful to everyone who has thought of challenges/ways of helping us. We value every penny and every mention.
Above all we are here, in confidence, and for as long as required. Stay safe everyone.