Christopher Barker

National seat

Region: Yorkshire, Northern region
BASC membership: 31+ years
Proposed by: P Catling
Seconded by: C Jenkinson

At 56, I finally find myself in the fortunate position with the time to pursue something for which I have a strong personal passion. Hence my decision to seek election for BASC Council.

I started shooting at the age of 11, stalking after rabbits and pigeons on neighbouring farms. Some years later my shooting career underwent an epiphany when I met a chairman of a wildfowling club on the BASC stand at the Game Fair. He explained all about wildfowling; the early mornings on the foreshore, the search for pinks and just how muddy a Labrador can get. I quickly bought his book, despite living many miles from the coast and knowing nothing about wildfowling. After reading it, I was hooked and immediately joined the club.

Throughout the years, I have enjoyed some excellent driven days but for most of my adult life wildfowling has always been my passion. I have been a member of the Kent Wildfowling & Conservation Association and the Fenland Wildfowlers Association (FWA) (and hence BASC) for over 25 years – recently taking over as hon. secretary for FWA. I am a member of four other clubs including the Hull & East Riding Wildfowlers Association (HERWA), where I am public relations officer. I manage the HERWA and FWA websites. I am a keen home loader and train my own gundogs, too.

During 35 years in industry as the commercial and procurement director of two large multinational printing groups, I initiated and led many large European projects negotiating multi-million pound agreements from conception to successful completion. Through my procurement activities, I have a wide experience across numerous industry sectors, including engaging and negotiating with government regulatory bodies, and, due to the ever-shrinking market for the printed word, I have a real appreciation of the need for cost control and the requirement to continuously innovate and evolve.

All this experience is very relevant to the world in which BASC operates today.

The next five years are going to be extremely challenging for country sports. In the near future, government plans for ‘substantial investment for countryside reconstruction’ will become clearer. While this initiative represents a significant opportunity for country sports, it is also potentially a major threat if we cannot demonstrate and communicate to the wider community the sustainable conservation benefits that our activities bring to the countryside. We will need to better understand, and where necessary challenge, the changes in Natural England’s approach to consenting activities on SSSIs. This has so far resulted in the cessation of wildfowling on several coastal areas and in all likelihood will start to impact all the sporting activities that take place on SSSIs, including driven game, stalking and grouse shooting.

We are fast approaching a watershed moment for all field sports and conservation in this country and I would be honoured to use my skills and knowledge to help support and guide the direction of BASC to help safeguard the continuation of shooting for generations to come.