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Having worked at the University of Cumbria’s Penrith campus for nine years, lecturing in land-based science, Ashleigh Miller-Kirkpatrick trained and qualified in the practical use of firearms and the handling of shot game.

The UK’s Sector Skills Council for land-based and environmental industries, LANTRA, awarded Mrs Miller-Kirkpatrick the LANTRA Women and Work (Game and Wildlife Management) Learner of the Year Award for 2010/11.

The Women and Work programme seeks to encourage all women working in male-dominated industries in England to gain the skills necessary to advance their careers.

Mrs Miller-Kirkpatrick commented: “The support of the Women and Work funding has helped me to develop my technical skills and confidence in game management.

“This has enabled me to become a better teacher to modern students of this increasingly complex subject.

“In time I hope this also has a positive impact on gender imbalance in this industry.”

Mrs Miller-Kirkpatrick also received a £450 training grant, and since the courses took place in-house the bulk of this was spent on a new rifle and accessories suitable for training women.

Edgar Brothers of Macclesfield supplied a CZ Silhouette rifle in .22LR, complete with scope, mounts and moderator at less than trade price.

The divisional leader of land and animal management at the Northern School of Game and Wildlife, Colin Blanchard, said: “Having had Ash as a vital part of our gamekeeping team here has been of immense benefit on all sorts of levels.

“This special award gives her even more credibility and continues to show young men and women that being a modern gamekeeper and using guns safely and efficiently as part of their work is not necessarily about being a tough macho man.

“We are particularly grateful too to Edgar Brothers for their generous support.”