What is it and why is it important?
The Year of the Gamekeeper is a multi-organisational initiative which aims to help gamekeepers by raising awareness about their profession and celebrating the hard work that they do all year round as custodians of the countryside.
This also helps support and sustain the long-term future of the Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust (GWT), which helps gamekeepers, stalkers and ghillies in need. The GWT provides financial grants to help keepers and their families through times of hardship, ill health, and retirement. It also offers educational grants to help future gamekeepers, helplines those in need can call to seek support, and provides a job register for any issues relating to employment.
Why should we as shooters support our gamekeepers and the GWT?
Gamekeepers do so much for shooters and the shooting community. They put on shooting days where we can enjoy socialising out in the beautiful countryside. They also give us a chance to take home a healthy and tasty food source that is game.
However, gamekeepers do a lot more than just organise shoot days. They protect our wildlife and create the perfect habitat for it to thrive in. They create areas for species to feed in the cold winter months and safe places for them to breed. All species benefit from their work – butterflies, bees and other insects, birds of prey, red-listed species, songbirds, deer and so much more.
Gamekeepers play a huge part in preserving wildlife and that is why they are so great. They spend days working in harsh weather and are up before the sun rises, working well after it sets.
But, Gamekeepers need our help; they spend quite a lot of time alone which can affect their mental health. The job can be very demanding and tiring, too, which can affect both mental and physical health.
So, if you know a gamekeeper, stop to have a chat with them whenever you can. Offer to help them when you have the time because they need us just as much as the countryside needs them. A little can go a very long way.