I’m guessing your shooting has suffered somewhat?
“The first couple of years I ended up giving up my gun at the local shoot which I’d been with since 1990, because I just didn’t have the time. My life as a sporting cartoonist was great because I could go shooting and call it work, as it were. I am obviously doing all the work for Heroes but I would like to try and restore some of my life. It was nice to pop into the House of Bruar the other day and see the Bryn Parry studio products still on the shelf. It made me realise I am still alive in the shooting world.”
What’s your gun of choice?
“I’ve a lovely Beretta EELL. I got it from Greenfields in Salisbury. They gave it to me with the wood unfinished, so I had hours and hours of fun polishing it. I may not shoot very well, but I’ve a very nice gun.”
So, where will you use it this season?
“I’m doing a local farm shoot near me in Wiltshire, a day in Dorset at Compton Valance and I’m going down to Devon too. I hope I will get three or four days this year, if I’m lucky. I also shoot sometimes at Temple Farm near Marlborough which is wonderful, and Gurston Down. In the old days I used to do cartoon commissions which would lead to shooting invitations but that has dried up. I have been very lucky, but with the charity it has been almost 100 per cent focus as we try and make these guys’ lives better. Life changing for us, but really life changing for them. We have had to totally commit to this and my own business has had to give way. I am sitting on many originals because the Game Fair of 2007 was cancelled. It is a very strange feeling that one day I had Bryn Parry Studios which we had run for 22 years and the next day, well, I shut the door on that and focused on the wounded. I’m kind of sitting on my old life and if anybody wants to buy a Bryn Parry original, there is still an opportunity.”
What’s new on the horizon with Help for Heroes?
“We are very excited about a new programme that we are putting together that is to do with shooting funnily enough. A lot of the injured guys enjoy the countryside, and the banter of shooting is pretty close to military life; you have a similar rank structure too. The keeper is the Sergeant Major, the pickers-up are probably the NCOs and so on…
“We are pulling together a team of people who have expressed a real interest in game shooting. One of them is already doing clay shooting at a seriously good level and he is a triple amputee, so that has its own challenges. We are going to hold sessions where we introduce this group to shooting and every aspect of it. Barney Stratton has been great and is going to be helping us on that.
“What I am calling for is for various organisations to support us, as I’m going to need the guys to be properly kitted out. We will require guns and instructors who can tackle some of the challenges these guys have when they shoot. We already have Mike Beach signed up. Mike and I served in the Army together; he lost his own leg and is a very good shot.
“Eventually, we will take them to a shoot, which Barney will host. Some of them will be shooting, some will work dogs, others will be with the beaters. Hopefully it may give them a spark they may want to take further, maybe get involved in game or land management or even just work a dog. One of the boys I’ve been talking to was brain damaged in 2009; he is now beating on a local estate and it is giving him a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”
Aside from Bryn Parry, other Robert Cuthbert interviewees for Shooting Stars include: