Traditional skills and hands on knowledge have disappeared from many jobs in rural Wales – but not from the work of game and river keepers where a deep understanding of the craft of the countryside, its habitats and wildlife are an essential tool of the trade.
Organisers of The CLA Game Fair, which takes place at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, from 22 – 24 July, have launched a nationwide search to find the longest serving – and the brightest – of the new exponents of the keeper’s craft.
The CLA Long Service Awards are a regular and long standing feature of The CLA Game Fair and provide an annual opportunity to recognise the sort of dedication a relatively small band of people have given to the countryside.
The long service awards are presented to game keepers who have clocked up at least 40 years service on not more than three estates and to river keepers and gillies who have completed 25 years service on the same river system.
"At a time when everybody is becoming more aware of the value of our countryside, these awards offer the opportunity to pay tribute to the vital role that these people play in the management and maintenance of it. They look after the woods and moors, rivers and streams - the real jewels of the countryside," said Game Fair Director, David Hough.
This year, for the first time, The CLA Game Fair and the Shooting Times & Country Magazine are also looking to honour people at the other end of the scale - with a brand new award for the UK’s most talented and inspiring young gamekeeper.
The management of game is just one aspect of a role that, today, incorporates the latest thinking in agricultural, veterinary and environmental practices. The Young Gamekeeper of the Year Award will celebrate the talent, passion, skill and the enthusiasm young people are bringing to this ancient craft.
CLA Wales Director Ben Underwood added: "Shooting and fishing make a vital contribution to the tourist industry and to the economy ofWales, supporting hotels, pubs, shops, garages, jobs and, of course, sporting estates. But none of this would happen without the dedication of the people who look after and manage the habitat, the game and the fisheries so it is always a privilege to be associated with this award and we hope that we see nominations from our region."
Potential candidates for the Long Service Awards must be nominated by an employer; further details on both the CLA Long Service Awards and how to nominate an individual can be obtained from The CLA Game Fair office, PO box 6452, Basingstoke, Hants, RG25 2XQ or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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