We find ourselves in unprecedented times. The Coronavirus pandemic has affected nigh on every person, business and sector in the UK.
The shooting community is no exception. For many of you, field sports and the conservation work that goes with it, provide relief from the pressures of modern-day life – relief that, at present, cannot be enjoyed. But country pursuits are not just a hobby. For many they are a way of life – a way of life that we must all do our bit to safeguard.
We will emerge from this crisis. And upon doing so, many will wish to head for the hills, woodlands and glens – rod, rifle or shotgun in hand. Indeed, there may be no better antidote to the claustrophobia of present measures.
In order to do this it is crucially important that everyone pulls together. We must ensure that the current period of concern and uncertainty does not cause long-term damage to conservation or the livelihoods of those who form the backbone of the shooting community – nor to the continuation of the important work done by representative bodies, such as BASC.
I am, and have been for many years, a member, and now have the privilege of serving as the President of BASC. Over that time I have watched it work hard to protect and preserve the things that many of us will come to appreciate even more in the future: the conservation of quarry and habitat, our precious connection with the outdoors; the value of community in the countryside; the provenance of the food we eat.
Without your support, now and throughout the coming weeks, many businesses and organisations will suffer. Rural communities will bear the brunt. So, too, will the future health and status of shooting sports and the natural environment.
Who will be there to manage and conserve our countryside if gamekeepers are rendered redundant by a shortage of bookings for the season ahead? Who will fight for and promote sustainable shooting in all corners of the UK if our membership organisations do not continue to grow in might and influence?
There is much to look forward to when all this is over. Now is the time to support those who make country pursuits possible.