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E-news: on the eve of the grouse shooting season we celebrate the unsung heroes of the moorlands - the gamekeepers
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The unsung heroes of the Glorious 12th

Grouse shooting is shooting on a grand, sweeping scale. The speed and agility of the birds, the breath-taking majesty of the landscapes, the centuries of countryside tradition. Maybe it’s unsurprising that when we talk about the benefits grouse shooting brings to countryside we speak in similarly grand, sweeping terms. 70% of England’s upland Sites of Special Scientific Interest are managed grouse moors. Landscape scale conservation means internationally threatened wader species are 3.5 times more likely to raise a chick to fledging on moors managed by gamekeepers. £100m invested annually in conservation by grouse shoots in England, Wales and Scotland. Tens of millions of pounds invested in remote rural communities every year by moorland managers and travelling grouse shooters. 

But perhaps we risk getting lost in these numbers. Last Sunday gamekeepers and their families reminded us of the human face behind the statistics, as they marched through Edzell, in Angus. Escorted by pipes and drummers, these proud countrymen and women, children in tow, captured all that is great about grouse shooting. Real people, real families, exemplifying decades of accumulated countryside wisdom and skills. People whose livelihoods wouldn’t exist were it not for grouse, the people who shoot them and the people who eat them. These are the people who support the local schools, shops and services in the remote corners of our countryside. These are the people who undertake the countryside management that delivers those remarkable conservation successes.

It is the individual victories of every gamekeeper that combine to make up the triumph that is grouse shooting. I was recently out on the hill with a group of ramblers and a keeper. I barely said a word. Faced with an expert who has dedicated his professional life to the grouse moor he stewards, our visitors wanted nothing more than to chat about his personal successes: the tourists who cross the Atlantic to shoot his grouse and the numbers of curlew, merlin and wheatear he had encouraged to nest on his moor. A similar tale could, and should, be told on every moor across the country.

When we celebrate the start of the season, we’re celebrating the culmination of months of effort from the people who deliver all the benefits of which the shooting community is so justifiably proud. If you are out raising a gun, waving a flag or otherwise getting involved, then you are a part of their success. So here’s raising a glass to the Glorious Twelfth; for countryside, conservation and community. 


Liam Stokes
Head of Shooting Campaigns
Follow me on Twitter @LNJStokes

Glorious 12th Mediawatch - The Spectator has published a piece by Matt Ridley. Read "How hunting and shooting help wildlife – and not just in Africa" where Ridley observes: "Grouse moors, like big-game hunting in Zimbabwe, boost biodiversity as well as creating good jobs." The GWCT's Andrew Gilruth took on Mark Avery, ex of the RSPB, on this morning's Farming Today - listen here, from 7.55 minutes in.


Win a pair of William Evans Connaught Premiums in our £25 gun draw Click here to enter.
Our Countryside Race Day at Aintree will take place on 23rd October - click for tickets
The Duke of Westminster

It is with great sadness that we learned this week of the death of His Grace the Duke of Westminster at the age of 64.

Simon Hart MP, Chairman of the Countryside Alliance, paid tribute to the late Duke, saying: "He was a consummate countryman and had been involved in rural campaigning for many years, helping to set up the Countryside Movement, the precursor to the Countryside Alliance. Vice President since our inception the Duke was passionate about standing up for the countryside, especially fieldsports as they came under increasing political scrutiny. He was also a noted conservationist and took his role as custodian of his estates extremely seriously. Our campaigning work carries on and we will remember him with huge gratitude and affection. Our thoughts are very much with his family and friends."

 

Leaked party document: "Labour treats countryside with polite indifference"

On Saturday 6th August the Telegraph reported: "Labour treats the countryside with a 'polite indifference', leaked party report admits". In the article Laura Hughes reported: "Labour has never been "more remote" from the interests of rural Britain and treats the countryside with a "polite indifference", a suppressed internal party report has admitted. A damning inquiry leaked to the Telegraph concludes that the "greater the rurality of an area, the less likely people are to vote Labour". Read the article in full here.

 


With the rolling start of the shooting seasons, make certain you are insured with the Countryside Alliance
Olympic Bronze for two Team GB shooters

Congratulations to Team GB shooters Ed Ling for his Bronze medal in the trap competition and Steve Scott for his Bronze in the double trap at the Rio Olympics this week. You can read our report on both medal winners here










Congratulations to Ed Ling (left) and Steven Scott (right)
 
UKIP Leadership candidates and the countryside

As the UKIP leadership race continues the Countryside Alliance has written to all contenders to establish their views on key rural priorities. We have asked each candidate the following questions and will report on the answers as we receive them:
  1. Do you support the Government’s commitment to a broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) with the ambition to give people the legal right to request a connection to broadband with speeds of 10 Mbit/s, no matter where they live?
  2. Do you agree that current levels of European Union funding available to UK agriculture under the Common Agricultural Policy should be maintained until at least 2020.
  3. Do you agree that there needs to be more incentives for landowners to make land available for affordable housing in rural communities as part of measures to tackle the housing crisis in rural areas?
  4. Can you assure the 650,000 holders of shotgun and firearms certificates in this country that you support lawful shooting?
  5. Do you support repeal of the Hunting Act 2004?
  6. Do you agree that people who undertake lawful activities in the countryside, should be able to do so without interference, and without facing intimidation?

Fishing 4 Schools' impressive growth 

It’s been a fantastic year for the Fishing 4 Schools (F4S) project, with five new schools on the course in Kent. Furthermore, six programmes of fishing instruction have been completed at five schools during the academic year around the South Coast

F4S is a national programme run by The Countryside Alliance Foundation. It runs short courses that offer a different way of learning for pupils, many with special educational needs, who may find academic work difficult but respond well to alternative learning. They integrate aspects of angling – for example weights and measures and fish biology – into the National Curriculum and encourage the youngsters to take up a new outdoor activity.

 


Shooting badges

This season’s shooting badges are now available in dark blue, with game bird illustrations by Ben Hoskyns on the sweepstake card. The badges and sweepstake cards are once again brought to you by Pol Roger Champagne.
 

Purchase a badge

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