Shooting and countryside organsiations came together at the Game Fair to officially launch 2020 Year of the Gamekeeper – an initiative to support, raise the profile and ensure the future of the Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust (GWT).

The GWT is a charity that works tirelessly to support gamekeepers, ghillies and stalkers, and their families, in times of hardship and strife as well as helping young people access college courses and future employment.

Understanding that gamekeeping is a way of life, the charity has played a vital role in thousands of lives and is a real asset to our community.

The Year of the Gamekeeper is a multi-organisation initiative to ensure the GWT gets the recognition it deserves and ensure its voice is heard above the clamber of our ever-faster lives, now and in the future.

The initiative seeks to raise £220,000 by the end of next year, through empowering every gamekeeper and member of the shooting community to do one thing in 2020 to raise funds for the GWT.

Eoghan Cameron, BASC chairman, said at the launch it was an “absolute privilege” to introduce the “excellent” initiative.

He said: “Each of us takes seriously the continuation of the sport that we all hold dear. We realise that we are part of a wider community – a family if you like. Keepers are at the beating heart of this family and, when in need, we should answer the call as family would.

“Imagine, if you will, where shooting and the Great British countryside would be today were it not for ‘keepers. They are the keepers of so much more than game – they breathe life into landscapes which, left unmanaged, would become wildlife deserts, a sea of monoculture. Those challenging, satisfying and relaxing days of sport would be thin on the ground and scarcely recognisable, if not a thing of the past.”

Sir John Scott Bt, president of the trust, said at the launch: “The Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust is a small registered charity, funded year by year solely from grants, voluntary donations and fundraising activities of various kinds, which currently enables us to look after around 600 gamekeepers and their families annually, but with cut-backs in the NHS and social services, we anticipate this figure to rise.

“We hope, that with your help, the Year of the Gamekeeper will be both a celebration of gamekeeping and provide a sustainable future for the trust, allowing us to continue our vital work and address the ever-increasing challenges which face our industry.”

Helen Benson, chief executive of the GWT, said: “We are really excited about this initiative and grateful to BASC for their support and indeed anyone who kindly wishes to support us.

“We look forward to ‘The Year of the Gamekeeper 2020’ with great optimism and knowing that together we are stronger.”

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