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Stackyard News Sep 2012

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Newton Rigg's Lee Alderson Wins National Gamekeeping Award

Newton Rigg student, Lee Alderson is celebrating after winning a national award for his gamekeeping skills. Lee, aged 17, is currently studying for his Work Based Learning Diploma at the college near Penrith, and has been selected as the 2012 Best Gamekeeping Student by the National Gamekeepers' Organisation after being nominated by the College.

Lee Alderson, winner of the Best Gamekeeping Student Award with Labrador Asha and his tutor Derrick Byas.

Larissa Harmsworth

He was presented with the award, which includes the prestigious Frank Jenkins Memorial Trophy, at the Midland Game & Country Fair in Shropshire on 15 September by NGO Chairman, Lindsay Waddell.

Wes Johnson, College Principal said: “This is a huge honour for Lee and for the college, and it's richly deserved. What sets Lee apart is that he is absolutely dedicated and focussed on his career and studies, and I am sure it's only a matter of time before he becomes a Head Keeper. He has the intelligence, the self discipline and commitment to really capitalise on his studies. He is a credit to the industry and to Newton Rigg.”

Lee's home is in Kirkby Stephen and he attended Kirkby Stephen Grammar School before beginning an apprenticeship last June. And he has just learnt that he will be staying on at his place of work, Wemmergill Estate, having been offered a full time job.

His interest in gamekeeping began as a child - he is following in the footsteps of his maternal grandfather, Edward Braithwaite, who has been gamekeeping for more than four decades. Seventeen year old Lee is currently an apprentice at the Wemmergill Estate in North Yorkshire and County Durham, one of the country's most historic and prolific grouse moors. Lee also attends Newton Rigg College for the two year course in gamekeeping and countryside management and is on track to gain his Work Based Diploma in February.

Said Lee: “I've always enjoyed country life and country sports, from being a boy when I used to go out with my granda, and then as I got older I started going beating on weekends and in the holidays. I enjoyed it so much that I decided I wanted to make gamekeeping my career rather than just taking up shooting as a hobby.”

He added: “Newton Rigg College has been brilliant at teaching me the theory and management side of the job,and it's especially good as I'm able to do all my certificates and training courses there. Their aim is to get us one step closer to getting a job which is just great. And you couldn't have a better place to work than Wemmergill - the Head Keeper John Pinkney and everyone there takes time to teach me. It's incredible the amount I've learnt just in the year, and it's thanks to them all. Studying at College then working at Wemmergill is the ideal combination.”

Lee has just learnt that when his apprenticeship ends in February he will begin as Under Keeper at Wemmergill. “It’s been a great year for me, first the Award and then to be offered the job as Under Keeper, I’m thrilled to bits,” he says.

The College has a thriving Countryside Management & Gamekeeping Department, which was acknowledged in the recent Ofsted report (Jan 2012). The Work Based Learning Diploma course is open to young people aged 16 – 24 years who are already in employment or are seeking an apprenticeship and provides both classroom based learning and practical experience.

Lee's tutor, Derrick Byas said: “We have youngsters from as far north as Edinburgh down to the grouse moors of Derbyshire who attend the courses.In September we will have 10 first years and 15 second years, which is a tremendous endorsement of the Diploma course, particularly in these days of austerity.”

He added: “Our course is particular popular with employers as it not only gives the classroom experience, but ensures that a whole range of qualifications can be achieved, so, in their working environment, our students can hit the ground running, with all the necessary qualifications under their belts.”

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