Shooting Times talks to BASC council candidate Sally-Anne Cockerill
Sally-Anne Cockerill, aged 34, is a chartered surveyor. She lives in the beautiful countryside of north Devon. She is standing for one of five contested seats in this year’s BASC council elections.
What is your shooting and conservation background?
I have been actively involved in country sports my entire life, be it shooting, hunting or fishing. We run a small family shoot at home, so as soon as I was able, I was sent out beating. From there I was encouraged to work a dog and enjoyed many seasons picking up. The natural progression was to be given the opportunity to shoot, a privilege not taken lightly nor for granted but one that is resolutely cherished year in year out.
I am a member of the Countryside Alliance, occasionally hunt, and enjoy a day’s loading when time allows.
What will you do for BASC and for shooting?
I believe I have many attributes that would assist BASC, both professionally and personally. I have a solid knowledge of shooting, conservation, firearms and welfare. I shot Olympic Trap for Great Britain so could assist in forwarding the Young Shots campaign and understand the importance of teaching newcomers – both young and old – safe techniques. I also feel that the South West is under represented at BASC Council level which is one of the reasons why I have put myself forward. There is a huge diversity of shooting in our area and it is fundamental to the regions rural economy.
What skills in your working life would you bring to BASC?
I am a Chartered Surveyor practicing in the South West with experience in dealing with a wide range of rural matters that lie at the heart of the BASC principles. These include setting up, advising upon and administering a range of shooting agreements from small scale informal permits to much larger commercial shoots and also dealing with an assortment of conservation matters on a mixture of land types including woodlands, foreshore and moorland. I am a responsible, organised and efficient person with drive and enthusiasm for things I am passionate about, which include shooting and the conservation of the countryside.
How would you improve BASC?
With so much competition, any association or membership body needs to be able to convince its members that their money is being put to good use and, what’s more, that it is achieving the goals that it set out to. Although I am an advocate of tradition, I am also not afraid of change; just because things have been done a certain way for a long time it doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t be improved upon. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can spot opportunities that otherwise may be missed and add another dimension to the table.
What bad practices in shooting would you tackle?
Bickering amongst ourselves! The sport of shooting comes in all different shapes and sizes: its diversity makes it unique, attracting people from all walks of life. A day’s shooting wouldn’t work without all the different elements coming together and standing side by side. There will always be divisions, whether actual or perceived, but if we are going to safeguard our sport for future generations, every aspect should be embraced and all voices listened to. I firmly believe BASC hold the key to this important role.
Do you think support for all fieldsports is necessary for a member of BASC council?
Personally I am an advocate of all fieldsports, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion; by listening to differing viewpoints, we can not only strengthen our own position but also broaden our understanding of issues. Prejudices and disparity are often borne out of misunderstanding. There is no point in being secretive – we need to be open and honest, clear and concise; we should be proud of the part we play in conserving the countryside. Country sports are a fundamental part of conservation, be it through shooting, fishing or hunting; without them the world that we live in would be a much lesser place.
How would you encourage new people into the sport and new members to join BASC?
I class myself as one of the lucky ones to have been born into a family so dedicated to our sport. Its importance was instilled in me from as far back as I can remember, therefore if you can capture people’s interest from a young age, you pretty much capture them for life. We can’t be complacent though, as not everybody is so fortunate. We need to open our arms wide and encourage all who take an interest if we want our sport to prosper in these uncertain times.
What’s your idea of a perfect shooting/sporting day?
Shooting for me is all about the sense of camaraderie you get out in the field, my companions being more important than the bag. I love the feeling of anticipation walking to your first stand, followed by the inevitable banter that follows when you miss the sitter yet no one claims to have noticed the skyscraper you deftly toppled! Regardless of whether it is a mini walk-up day at home, or being invited on a driven day, provided we have good, safe sport and I’m surrounded by friends and family any days shooting is fine by me!
What’s your favourite game dish?
I’m a big fan of game and love experimenting with delicious, fresh seasonal produce. We run a small oven-ready game business, so I’m forever trying out new recipes with whatever’s in the chiller. Top picks so far are venison steaks with blackberry sauce. I also love the delicate flavour of early season partridge, ideally served wrapped in pancetta on a bed of celeriac mash with greens. But then there’s the trusty old favourite of mum’s – succulent roast pheasant for Sunday lunch, surrounded by family on a cold winter’s day. Anyone who claims it is dry hasn’t tasted my mum’s!
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.