A good gamekeeper is essential to any successful shoot and an exceptional keeper is one to be prized and praised.

Please email your nomination without delay to tgwhalebay@btinternet.com or by post to Gamekeeper of the Year Award, Farmlife, Farmers Weekly, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5AS (Tel 020 8652 4928)

See below for competition details

Closing date is 30 April, 2009

Too often these country craftsmen are taken for granted, but Farmers Weekly and the CLA Game Fair seek to address that with our prestigious Gamekeeper of the Year Award.

This award is presented to the keeper who employs best practice on all aspects of the shoot; who protects his game but manages the shoot in a way that also benefits wildlife.

He or she will be passionate about the job, the countryside and providing sport to be proud of. While working within the confines of the employer’s budget and expectations, this keeper will put his/her own stamp on the shoot and not compromise over standards.

In short, we are looking for a keeper – young or old – who is a cut above the rest, who makes the most of a shoot, large or small.

George Thompson gamekeeper of the year cla

Current award holder George Thompson is one such keeper. George is responsible for 7000 acres as head moorkeeper at Spaunton Moor, near Pickering, North Yorkshire and has certainly lived up to the title this season.

Passionate about grouse and providing them with the best habitat possible, he has provided some great sport this winter.

“We have done all right,” he says with typical modesty. “We have shot 350 brace and had five driven and two walked-up days. Generally it has been a poor season on the North Yorkshire Moors.”

Holding the award is a very positive experience, he finds, and is enjoying it, despite some good-natured ribbing. “The guns that come here all seemed to know about it and congratulated us. Word has even got to France. I was there recently for a couple of days of wild-boar hunting, was introduced as the Gamekeeper of the Year and ended up giving a talk on moorland keeping,” says George.

Since winning the Award, he has taken part in a couple of radio interviews, successfully debated moorland policy with the RSPB on radio and is due to do a TV interview. “It’s been fantastic and even the hip flask has been well used,” he says. “I have been toasted at home and in France.”

George hopes to be at the CLA Game Fair in July to congratulate the next Gamekeeper of the Year. If you think you know someone who could fill his shoes, then nominate them without delay for a prize worth winning.


WHO CAN ENTER FOR THE AWARD?

The award is open to all full and part-time employed gamekeepers in the UK. Keepers of all types of shoot, large and small, upland and lowland, with reared or wild birds are eligible.

Nominations for keepers who have been put forward in other years are welcome, but previous finalists are not eligible.

All nominees are expected to follow the Code of Good Shooting Practice.

How is the Award judged?

The first round of judging is purely on the nomination information supplied.

The entries that have the most impact on the judges are usually from people who know the keeper and his work well, and give as much information as possible. Shortlisted candidates will then be contacted. The judges, who represent the CLA, NGO, BASC and Farmers Weekly, will visit the shoots and talk to the keepers and the employers, or their agents, of anyone who makes the short-list. The top three finalists will then be chosen.

Who can put forward a gamekeeper for the award?

Nominations can be made by an employer, a colleague, beater, gun, friend, relative or neighbour. Gamekeepers are also welcome to nominate themselves.

What information should be included with the nomination?

For your candidate to be considered we need to know:

  • The gamekeeper’s name and contact details, and your own.
  • Say why he/she should win the award

Tell us as much as you can about:

  • The gamekeeper’s working methods
  • Attitude to wildlife and conservation
  • Any schemes implemented to benefit wildlife
  • Involvement, if any, with the wider issues of country sports or their promotion
  • The shoot – type, size, location, number of shoot days etc

What will the gamekeeper win?

There are many benefits – but it’s certainly a great achievement for the keeper, a draw for clients to the shoot and an accolade for all the effort put into running a shoot in a way of which landowners and gamekeepers can be justly proud.

All the finalists will also be profiled in Farmers Weekly.

The cash prizes are

  • £400 for the winner
  • £150 each for two runners-up

Plus, all three each win

  • An engraved hip flask
  • A pair of CLA Game Fair tickets
  • Overnight hotel accommodation for two and dinner with the other finalists prior to the presentation of the prizes
  • Lunch in the Members Enclosure following the presentation of the prizes at the CLA Game Fair, Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire, which runs from Friday 24 July to Sunday 26 July, 2009.