Shooting Times talks to BASC council candidate Sarah Turner
Sarah Turner, aged 26, is a rural chartered surveyor. She lives in rural north Devon on the edge of Exmoor. She is standing for one of five contested seats in this year’s BASC council elections.
What is your shooting and conservation background?
My father is head picker-up on the Castle Hill shoot, and from the age of four, I would go with him picking up, beating and shooting. My love for the sport grew, and I started training as a gamekeeper where I was “poached” from the profession by my current employer and sent to Cirencester to complete a rural land management degree. I now work as a rural land agent, and many of my clients are shooting syndicates, tenants or owners. I am also the secretary for the Greater Exmoor Shoots Association.
What will you do for BASC and for shooting?
I am passionate about the countryside, driven and focused to ensure that our sport and the environment in which we enjoy it, is preserved for future generations. I have a working knowledge of gamekeeping, shooting law, conservation and other issues which will be beneficial for BASC and shooting.
I believe the environmental, economic and international importance of shooting within the South West should be represented at higher level within BASC, as should the views of the younger generation.
What skills in your working life would you bring to BASC?
One of my primary working roles is acting for shoots of all sizes, which includes negotiating shooting agreements, planning permissions, crop damage claims, conservation, recruitment, and dealing with health and safety issues. Negotiation is a core skill required for this, and a working knowledge of shooting law and current issues is fundamental. I have experience in dealing with the legalities around shooting, and I keep up to date on the key issues facing our sport today.
How would you improve BASC?
I think that, particularly in the South West, the image of BASC has deteriorated in many people’s eyes as they have felt the organization lost its direction. I would like to restore people’s faith in BASC by proving that it represents, supports and works to protect all types of shooting at all levels, where legal and safe.
What bad practices in shooting would you tackle?
One of the key issues revolving around shooting is the public perception of our sport. We need to ensure that we unite and face the public as a unit, and pointing fingers at bad practices that one shoot may condone but another does not is unhelpful. Good practices should be encouraged, for example clearing cartridge cases and plastic wads, the planting of cover crops in a way that reduces visual impacts, encouraging game in local pubs and restaurants, running courses for safe loading, beating and picking up and how to display your sport on social media in a responsible way.
Do you think support for all fieldsports is necessary for a member of BASC council?
In order to be able to deliver the BASC objectives, council members need to have an interest in the core principles of the organisation, yet take an objective view. It takes all sorts to make the world go round, and there will be those that are opposed to what we do. As a BASC council member it is important to understand this opposite point of view to be able to ensure that the decisions we take will reflect the sport in its best light.
How would you encourage new people into the sport and new members to join BASC?
The BASC Young Shots initiative is a fantastic gateway into our sport. I would like to see it expand to include other elements surrounding shooting and conservation such as trapping, conservation projects and working gun dogs. Recently I helped four young gamekeepers gain employment with an apprenticeship scheme, and would like to work to help others find employment and begin training in the profession. I believe that anyone at any age should be able to have access to our sport through some means and that BASC holds the key to allow those connections to take place.
What’s your idea of a perfect shooting/sporting day?
Any day that the dog behaves!
What’s your favourite game dish?
I love all game, but one of my local pubs does a beautiful roast partridge wrapped in bacon with a mushroom sauce that I would love to be able to replicate, but sadly cannot!
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.