The judges have read the
nominations, visited the
shoots, assessed the
finalists and made their
decision. Tim Potter is
farmers weekly/CLA Game
Fair Gamekeeper of the Year
A TRUE professional. A gamekeeper for today whose work will stand the scrutiny of an unsympathetic public and even convince them that a well run shoot is a positive benefit to wildlife – that is how the judges describe Tim Potter – farmers weekly/
CLA Game Fair Gamekeeper of the Year 2001.
Tim, who is keeper at Toddington Manor, Toddington, Beds, was "chuffed to bits" when told he had won the award and felt his employer, Sir Neville Bowman Shaw would be equally delighted.
The judges were very impressed with how Tim had coped with changes in ownership of the land – much of the 810ha (2000 acre) shoots land was sold to a non-resident, non-shooting owner in 1994 – and had continually improved the sport on this commercially farmed holding in ways that had knock-on benefits for plant diversity, small birds and waterfowl.
Whats more, unlike keepers of old, Tim positively encourages groups to visit the shoot and he has also given talks in local schools explaining what his work involves. He counters antagonism by inviting anti-shooting people to come beating and has had some notable converts. "A total anti now comes beating regularly and we have tried to ensure that we dont have anyone against us, locally, by being open about what we do," explains Tim (38), who has worked as a keeper since he left school and was a head keeper at 22.
Totally dedicated to his way of life, Tim is blessed with a wife and three children who are interested in it too, and come beating on the shoot.
"The buzz for me comes on a shoot day when you see a great drive with a good team around you and show good birds when everything has been against it," says Tim.
"I love my job and I want to share it with everybody."
Tim will be presented with his award tomorrow (Sat, July 28) at the farmers weekly stand (N612), CLA Game Fair, Shuttleworth, Old Warden Park, nr Biggleswade, Beds, at 12 noon.
Also receiving awards will be runners up, Wendy Cummins, keeper at Manor Farm, Crux Easton, Newbury, Berks, and Steve Reynolds, keeper at Hamels Park, Westmill, Buntingford, Herts.
Full details of all three finalists appeared in Farmlife in our July 13 issue.