Shooting Times talks to BASC council candidate Oliver McCullough
Oliver McCullough, aged 59, is a retired HR manager from the higher education sector and now gives his time to a number of voluntary roles. These include committees within the sporting sector, being a trustee of Citizens Advice NI and a public appointment on a pensions committee. He is also undertaking a conservation project involving seven acres of wilderness around his house. He is standing for the uncontested Northern Ireland seat in this year’s BASC council elections.
What is your shooting and conservation background?
I joined Comber Wildfowlers (then affiliated to WAGBI) as a 16-year-old and I am a current committee member of the club. I have been a member of a number of small shoots but my main sporting interest is woodcock shooting with just my cocker, Bokka, as a companion. Creating a suitable woodland and aquatic habitat is my home based conservation project.
What will you do for BASC and for shooting?
I want to use my network of contacts built up over four decades within the shooting community to promote the role of BASC at a local and national level.
What skills in your working life would you bring to BASC?
My professional background was human resource management. Since retirement, my voluntary roles have developed governance skills, setting and monitoring strategy implementation and budget management. I am experienced in working with public bodies and, when required, holding them to account.
How would you improve BASC?
BASC is a brand leader but still needs to communicate with its membership and with the wider community. As a body we need to get our voice heard. This can mean challenging those who oppose our sport and those who do not share our views. I want to assist in getting our message across.
What bad practices in shooting would you tackle?
I would challenge excessive bags of both reared and wild quarry species; we rely on voluntary restraint. I would commend the BASC Code of Good Shooting Practice. I would also promote a wider appreciation of the hard work that is involved in maintaining a suitable habitat for sustainable sport.
Do you think support for all fieldsports is necessary for a member of BASC council?
My personal view is no. While an appreciation of the countryside and the environment is required, support for each separate sport is up to the individual.
How would you encourage new people into the sport and new members to join BASC?
To take part in field sports BASC provides the essential insurance cover, this also allows individuals to experience sport as a guest. Via education, roadshows and game fairs, BASC reaches out to people and provides a taster for what is involved. I have helped man the BASC stand at a number of game fairs and find this an effective way to get our message across, however, we need new ways to reach the wider community.
What’s your idea of a perfect shooting/sporting day?
This is a selfish pleasure shared only with my cocker spaniel. It would be a frosty day in Fermanagh, with enough woodcock in the coverts to keep the cocker switched on. Birds flushed and birds missed and perhaps a snipe or pheasant to add variety. With a brace of woodcock at the end of the day, I have earned my gin and tonic.
What’s your favourite game dish?
Smoked roast mallard breast as prepared by my wife.
The 12 candidates standing for the five contested BASC council places are as follows:
In the Northern Irish and Welsh council seats, for which there will be no ballot, the new council members will be Oliver McCullough (Northern Ireland) Jonathan Garton (Wales).
Profiles of those standing will also be sent to BASC members in the March/April issue of the members’ magazine, along with voting forms. The results will be announced at the organisation’s AGM in June.
For more information about the 2015 elections and BASC council, click here.