6 September 2002

Mole catcher for the monarch

FOR the first time in hundreds of years the monarch has an official mole-catcher. The Queen has granted a Royal Warrant to former gamekeeper Victor Williamson who is charged with keeping the pests on the Sandringham Estate, Norfolk, under control.

Victor spends three days a week clearing the gardens, horse stud, park and farm on the 20,000 acre estate of moles. "They live in the surrounding woods. When the grass is cut they come in looking for worms. They need to eat 200/day to survive," says Victor, who lives at Runcton Holme, near Kings Lynn.

"A mole works four hours, sleeps four hours and never takes a holiday, which is why they are so active."

A life-long countryman, Victor has his own small pest control company with a partner, specialising in everything from rabbits to wasps. He has been doing this sort of work since 1974.

He is very proud of getting the Royal Warrant and believes he is the first official royal mole catcher since the days of King George III. But ask him how many moles he catches at Sandringham each year and he goes coy. "Just say it is a lot."

And the best way to catch persistent moles? "A humane trap which kills them instantly in their holes. I have heard of everything from toy windmills to mothballs but you cant beat that," he says.

Tom Montgomery