I’ve been a proud BASC member for a long time and over the years have become acquainted with the staff members at the BASC Scotland office through time spent at BASC clay and game shoots and various countryside events in Scotland.
Early in 2016 I was approached by the BASC Scotland team and asked to consider standing for a national seat on Council. I’ll admit that I was both surprised and slightly flattered as having never been a board member of a company or similar, I didn’t consider that I might have the correct attributes for the role.
However, as a BASC member of many years, keen fieldsports enthusiast and rural worker whose livelihood depends on the shooting industry, I thought it might be a good opportunity to do my bit for our rural cause.
At the risk of sounding cliched, I saw it as a chance for me to do my bit and give something back. I thought about the idea for a couple of days and then agreed to stand for election. Standing against several other strong candidates I really did not envisage being elected. I’m so pleased that I was!
Being on BASC Council is an interesting and mostly rewarding experience which has provided me with great insight into the workings of a large and successful association. It has been a real learning curve and a great opportunity to keep abreast of what is happening nationally and further afield in connection with conservation, legislation and sporting matters.
The extended team of BASC staff, volunteers, Council members, coaches and members is like an extended family and a great support network.
Every member of Council brings a diverse skill set to the table. We are responsible for setting strategy and decision making on a wide range of subjects and issues. All have the common goal of maintaining and advancing BASC for the benefit of all staff and members and promoting shooting sports and conservation in the UK and beyond.
Council members are not directly involved in operational matters but work very closely with our CEO and departmental and regional experts.
Involvement can be time consuming; emails and media platforms must be monitored on a regular basis and attending 10 Council meetings a year and associated events does take an amount of time and effort as I reside in the Highlands of Scotland. However, these tasks are not onerous as I have learned a great deal and met some very interesting people on my BASC journey to date.
A part of my involvement with BASC which I find of particular interest is being Chair of the SYCET Trust (Scottish Youth in the Countryside Education Trust).
This charitable trust was formed with the aim of promoting the wider understanding of the countryside, its sporting traditions and its wildlife to young people from all backgrounds.
During 2019 I was thrilled to attend one of our SYCET Bushcraft Days. This was organised by the trust and ably supported by BASC Scotland. The quiet early morning reticence of the young attendees evolved throughout the day to become whoops of joy at using buckets of water to test the waterproof viability of their self-constructed field shelters whilst their instructors and new friends cowered inside!
Thus, from the boardroom to bonfire building, there haven’t been many dull moments.
There is an ever-increasing list of challenges facing our association, shooting sports and the rural way of life.
In my opinion, one of the biggest challenges is to combat the false and negative information which is constantly broadcast about rural, shooting-related and conservation topics.
BASC in its entirety continually strives to promote positive facts and good practice, provides training programmes and youth events, broadcasts information about game consumption and supports conservation projects. It’s a tall order, but we must not give up.