Shooting Times talks to BASC council candidate Professor Ann Mortimer
Professor Ann Mortimer, aged 57, is a professor of psychiatry and a consultant psychiatrist. She lives in rural East Yorkshire. She is standing for one of five contested seats in this year’s BASC council elections.
What is your shooting and conservation background?
Until 10 years ago, I didn’t have one. My interest grew – exponentially – after I was give an air rifle for my birthday, having complained about pigeons eating the broccoli in the garden.
What will you do for BASC and for shooting?
Act as an ambassador to find ways of promoting shooting sports and increasing participation. BASC membership has just topped 140,000 but the organisation would be stronger if it could expand even further. Other countries where a significant minority of the population is involved in shooting, Sweden for instance, are in a better position to defend the status quo, which seems perennially under threat in the UK.
What skills in your working life would you bring to BASC?
Listening, communicating and persuading, and the ability to promote BASC’s voice in government, particularly regarding my knowledge of mental health issues in firearms licensing. Given my background in scientific research, I am well placed to interpret academic output of relevance to BASC.
How would you improve BASC?
With closer working relationships with other countryside organisations to optimise a united voice in government. With better engagement with the membership “on the ground” through enhanced outreach activities: BASC can be seen as remote, and more interested in the income-generation opportunities of further regulation of our sport than promoting it.
What bad practices in shooting would you tackle?
I have been fortunate not to encounter many. The big one at the moment is probably waterfowl entering the food chain having been shot with lead. Even this is quite controversial: what seems to be missing is convincing science. People need to be convinced why a practice is bad, or they will not give it up.
Do you think support for all fieldsports is necessary for a member of BASC council?
It depends what you mean by support. Opposition would no doubt be unwelcome. There has to be a balance between BASC’s specific interests and resources for those that are not part of that core.
How would you encourage new people into the sport and new members to join BASC?
With close partnerships with other countryside organisations, businesses such as sporting agencies, shooting schools and shoot managers, agencies such as GunsOnPegs, etcetera. With more Young Shots days and with presentations to agricultural colleges and schools regarding gamekeeping and countryside management. I’m not infallible, so I would survey the membership regarding how they think this can best be achieved.
What’s your idea of a perfect shooting/sporting day?
A driven shoot in reasonable weather, in beautiful countryside with excellent company – including the beaters and pickers up. Plenty of humour, and good catering. A variety of quarry, varying in difficulty. Obviously, to shoot well would enhance the day, especially if somebody notices: compliments like “Grown men would weep to see someone like you shooting like that” and “Well gentlemen, Ann has shown you all up today!” have made my day, if not my decade!
What’s your favourite game dish?
Pheasant stroganoff – a rich and succulent dish involving cream, smoked paprika and flaming brandy. It also freezes very well.
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.