A major grouse moor in County Durham, an organic farm in Yorkshire and a wildfowlers? association in Lancashire have emerged as the top three winners in the 2012 Purdey Awards for Game and Conservation.
Since August, judges have been visiting shortlisted entrants throughout the UK to assess the most worthy winners, and their decision was announced last week by chairman Lord Douro at a presentation in Purdey?s historic Long Room in central London.
The Gold Award was presented to Michael Stone, owner of the Weardale estate in Bishop Auckland, County Durham.
He also received the coveted Purdey Awards Shield, a cheque for £4,000 and a jeroboam of Laurent- Perrier champagne.
Since purchasing 4,300 acres from the Forestry Commission in 1984, Mr Stone and Weardale headkeeper Nick Walmsley have embarked on a moorland improvement project, culminating in Weardale being regarded as one of the finest driven grouse moors in the country.
Awards organiser Richard Purdey said: ?Though the sheer scale of Weardale makes it our largest entry to date, Michael Stone and Nick Warmsley win Gold, not on size, but for the outstanding quality of their moorland development strategy and its ensuing results.?
?Weardale has set new standards in grouse moor management and Michael Stone is a most worthy winner.?
The Silver Award and a cheque for £3,000 was presented to Pollybell Organic Farm in South Yorkshire.
Pollybell Organic owner Nigel Brown and gamekeeper Miles Bentley were cited for their ?tremendous work in organic farming, coupled with outstanding wild game and habitat management?.
The Bronze Award and a cheque for £2,000 was presented to Westmorland Wildfowlers Association chairman Mark Shaw and honorary secretary Andy Stott.
The association is based near Carnforth in Lancashire.