Gameshooting estates are bringing a warm flush to Christmas with free pheasants and fuel for those in need

Gamekeepers and estates are helping to bring a festive flush to Christmas in Aberdeenshire this year by giving fresh game and fuel to those in need. Local councillors, charities and volunteers have come together to help the initiative get off the ground and make a real difference to people this holiday season.

Examples of estates helping out are Tillypronie estate, which will be supplying free pheasants, and Balmoral, which will donate logs and vegetables. Others who have pledged to provide free pheasants and other game and produce include Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association member Audrey Dykes, who has arranged for her shooting syndicate to give venison.

All the game will be fresh and will meet food safety standards and with recipes and clear cooking instructions, in case recipients are aren’t used to working with game.

Social media idea

The idea sprang from social media conversations between members of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, who felt that estates could make this Christmas easier for local people in need. From there it spread, with local councillors, charities and volunteers adding their enthusiasm and efforts.

Councillor Linda Clark of Banchory used her personal networks to see that the provisions can be supplied and used most effectively. Councillor Geva Blackett of Braemar put in invaluable groundwork to enable a community team to work with the Home-Start families charity and social services to deliver the food and fuel.

Councillor Blackett said: “It may not always be so high profile but rural poverty is an issue of concern. People may be sitting at the top of remote glens, for example, and folk may be unaware about their concerns or what is going on with them. Some may be finding it hard to heat their houses in winter, let alone have the means to cook and eat good quality fresh food.

“It has been great working with people in the local area to see what can be done to help, and bringing it all together. It would be nice to think it could maybe make a small difference to an individual or a family in the festive season.”

Making a difference

free pheasants

Councillor Geva Blackett put in the groundwork with local charities and social services to set up the deliveries of food and fuel

Councillor Linda Clark praised the community-mindedness of all who have come together to help out, from the idea to the conception stage. “Having worked myself in the voluntary services, I know there are financially vulnerable people who will find things tougher in winter. I commend everyone involved because this is practicality in action at community level.

“We have also had people volunteering to assist with the deliveries. Whether recipients take up the offer is, of course, up to them. Hopefully though, if they do, it might mean they can spend the money they have on something else. As we know, Christmas can be an expensive time for all of us.”