The Bellamy Award, named after the renowned conservationist Professor David Bellamy is being presented to the person or estate that has done most to help secure the future for the curlew, one of our most endangered bird species. The award will be presented on the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation’s (NGO) stand at this year’s Countryfile Live, taking place at Blenheim Palace from 1st – 6th August 2019.
The prestigious trophy being presented at the show is made from a piece of bog oak, which is many thousands of years old. It was presented to the NGO’s Educational Trust by the renowned conservationist and NGO Patron, Professor David Bellamy to symbolise the enduring nature of mankind’s relationship with the living landscape.
The NGO’s Educational Trust’s Bellamy Award was launched in 2010 and recognises those who display exceptional creativity and initiative in promoting sustainable land management. A previous winner of this award was Mary Colwell, one of our leading curlew conservationists.
The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation’s stand at Countryfile Live is always a main attraction at the show.
Tim Weston, Development Officer with the NGO, said, “Our stand attracts a fascinated audience, with its wide its wide variety of colourful displays, wildlife crops, scientific research, children’s area and of course the opportunity to taste and discover the wonderful aspects of eating wild and healthy game meat. Last year there were many enthusiastic children plucking pigeons and then enjoying their cooked endeavours.”
Modern gamekeepers plays a crucial role in helping to sustain our countryside for the benefit of a host of wildlife species and habitats. Impressively, nine times as much of the British countryside is looked after by gamekeepers as it is in nature reserves and National Parks.
But one of the most frequent questions asked by the public is ‘What does a gamekeeper do?’
The simple answer is that they are renowned for their conservation work in the countryside. Species such as brown hare, and declining farmland birds such as lapwing, redshank and snipe thrive because of their careful management of countryside habitats for game species such as pheasant, red grouse and grey partridge.
They manage woodland areas by coppicing trees, which encourages the growth of important wild plants such as bluebells, wood anemone and violets. The also provide attractive nesting sites for ground-nesting birds and grow stunningly colourful wildlife crops that feed game birds as well as providing important food for hungry farmland birds and pollinating insects. They also provide protection from canny predators such as foxes and crow.
A recent poll among 2,000 adults revealed that the majority of folk are lacking in basic knowledge about the countryside – even down to recognising a blackbird. But a visit to the National Gamekeepers’ stand at Countryfile Live will help to fill these gaps when gamekeepers share their extensive knowledge and passion for wildlife and the countryside with visitors to the stand.
Tim Weston from the NGO will be on hand to answer questions from the curious about the activities of gamekeepers. He said, “There is a growing disconnect between urban and countryside dwellers, particularly about the need to manage our countryside in a way that benefits people, wildlife and habitats and even about where our food comes from. Our extensive taxidermy display showing examples of game species, wader birds, songbirds and mammals offer fascinating insight, particularly the constant battle between predator and prey species. Complementing this we have a large range of colourful wildlife crops growing to illustrate the specific food requirements of insects, farmland birds and game species.”
The large variety of wildlife crops growing on the stand have been kindly provided by Bright Seeds, who will advise and show examples of the targeted wildlife crops that can be grown on farms, estates and even smaller gardens to attract and support different species such as bumblebees, insects, corn bunting, sparrows and pheasant.
There will also be a wide variety of other countryside organisations on the NGO stand, who will be able to advise and provide information on their various activities.
The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation: The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NG)) represents the gamekeepers of England and Wales. The NGO defends and promotes gamekeeping and gamekeepers and works to ensure high standards throughout the profession. The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation was founded in 1997 by a group of gamekeepers who felt that keepering was threatened by public misunderstanding and poor representation. Today, there are 13,000 members of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation. www.nationalgamekeepers.org.uk
The NGO Educational Trust: The NGO Educational Trust is an independent registered charity established under the parentage of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation. Its main aim is to educate children and older people into the ways of the countryside and the important part it plays in our lives. It provides a wide-array of educational teaching material aimed at school children to help them have a better understanding of the countryside and the role of gamekeepers. This is freely available to teachers through the Times Educational Supplement. So far 14,000 teachers have downloaded or visited the resources and children who rarely have access to the countryside are immediately captivated by our easily digestible material. This is proving to be an invaluable teaching aid covering many elements of the syllabus.