Eighteen-year-old Cormac Thompson has won the National Gamekeepers' Organisation Frank Jenkins Memorial Trophy, sponsored by Musto, which was presented him by the Chairman Liam Bell at the Midland Game Fair

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Will Hetherington of Shooting Gazette interviews Cormac

The award goes to the best gamekeeping student of the academic year. Cormac completed his game and countryside management course at Harpury College, Gloucester, this summer and now runs the college’s commercial gameshoot.

He said: “I am delighted to have won the Frank Jenkins. It is a great honour and I’d like to thank the NGO and Musto. I live and breathe the countryside, and I’ve always wanted to be a gamekeeper. My granddad was a keeper in Suffolk, my dad took me beating as a boy and I shot my first pheasant at the age of nine. My ambition is one day to be a headkeeper on a pheasant and partridge shoot. I am certain the award will stand me in excellent stead in my career.

“I really enjoyed being a full-time gamekeeping student at Hartpury, I think qualifications are essential for anyone starting out in keepering. It is the way the world is going. I want to thank the college, especially my course lecturers Robbie Nicolle, Andy James and Ralph Tallis. A big thank you also to Robert Mitchell at North Molton in Devon, the shoot where I did my pre-college placement and learnt such a lot.”

Robbie Nicolle, a gamekeeping lecturer at Hartpury College, added: “Cormac, who studied on our level three extended diploma in countryside management and game course, was one of the most hardworking and determined students I have ever taught… His course assignments were all completed to distinction standard and he took on responsibility by running the beating line on the college’s Tuesday shoot days. It is not the easiest job on a commercial shoot but Cormac ran the line like a seasoned keeper.”

Liam Bell, the Chairman of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, concluded: “It gives me great pleasure to present the Frank Jenkins award to Cormac, who our judges felt was an outstanding gamekeeping student. He is a very worthy winner, doubly so when all the students nominated for the trophy were of such high calibre. Cormac’s dedication to the job, coupled with his maturity, and excellent academic and practical ability, along with the gift of being able to inspire others, will, I hope, see him fulfil his dream of becoming a headkeeper. May I wish Cormac every good luck.”

Emmie Brown, MUSTO Country Marketing Manager, commented: “We wish our winner, Cormac, all success in his future career, and hope his new Musto jacket will keep him protected from the elements in all his endeavours.”

The late Frank Jenkins was a well-known gamekeeper whose career spanned more than 60 years.