The gamekeeping profession will be out in force to answer questions, offer delicious game dishes and share their passion for the countryside at the BBC’s ‘Countryfile Live’, (stand D66) taking place at Blenheim Palace from 2-5th August 2018.
According to the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation very few people have met a gamekeeper. But this could change when the gamekeeping profession comes out in force to answer questions, offer delicious game dishes and share their passion for the countryside at the BBC’s ‘Countryfile Live’, (stand D66) taking place at Blenheim Palace from 2-5th August 2018.
Tim Weston, Development Officer with the NGO, said, “This is a fantastic opportunity to fly the flag for gamekeepers. Our stand attracts a fascinated audience, with 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 we had enthusiastic children plucking pigeons and then enjoying their cooked endeavours.”
On the stand there will also be a venison butchery demonstration and top chefs will be showing visitors how to prepare and cook this healthy meat. Tim Weston said, “A recent survey showed that people would like to eat game because it is a wild and healthy meat that is low in fat but they do lack the confidence to cook it. Our demonstration aims to show how to tackle this delicious meat and hopefully will encourage them to try cooking it in their own kitchens.”
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 of wildlife and the countryside with visitors to the stand.
Brian Hayes, who runs the NGO Educational Trust, 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 offers 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.
Examples of the delicious wild game pies for sampling on the stand are being supplied by the Wild & Game Company.
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. These include:
The British Deer society is a charity that is the leading expert on deer welfare, management, training and advice. www.bds.org.uk
Bright Seeds provides an extensive range of specialist game and conservation seed mixtures. www.brightseeds.co.uk
Sparsholt and Newton Rigg colleges, both provide training, courses and advice for those wishing to pursue a career in gamekeeping and countryside management: https://www.newtonrigg.ac.uk and www.sparsholt.ac.uk
UK DTR – UK Deer Tracking Register is a not-for-profit organisation that provides training and a register of dog tracking teams to seek out injured deer: www.deertrackingandrecovery.co.uk
Game Farmers Association is a trade organisation dedicated to the production of quality gamebirds for the UK shooting industry. www.gfa.org.uk
Wild & Game Company is a non-profit organisation with the aim of introducing people to the great taste of game. www.wildandgame.co.uk
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust is a research charity conducting conservation science to enhance the British countryside. www.gwct.org.uk
Picture caption: The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation’s display at Countryfile Live last year. Pictured: Adam Henson (centre) having a go at making venison sausages on the NGO stand
Notes to editors:
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 through the Times Educational Supplement. So far 14,000 have downloaded the resources and children who rarely have access to the countryside are immediately captivated by our easily digestible material and teachers find it an invaluable teaching aid covering many elements of the syllabus.