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Bywell estate shoot wins 2017 Gold Purdey Award

The 5,000-acre shoot was commended for its “outstanding vision” and was just one of the exceptional conservation projects honoured at the awards last month.

Bywell Shoot

The Bywell shoot in Northumberland has won the 2017 Purdey Gold Award for Game and Conservation.

Bywell estate owners Viscount Allendale and his son, the Hon Wentworth Beaumont, along with headkeeper Alan Edwards, were presented with the trophy and £5,000 by BBC Countryfile star Adam Henson at a ceremony in the Purdey Long Room in London’s Mayfair last month.

“Outstanding vision”

The annual awards celebrate the best game conservation projects in the UK and are judged by a panel of industry specialists, led by the Duke of Wellington.

The judges recognised the “outstanding vision and leadership” of the Bywell estate in transforming the 5,000-acre shoot from a “family and friends” reared pheasant shoot in 2012 to a wild game shoot with a sustainable population of wild birds, including grey partridges.

Second place went to Brewery Farm in Stonham, Suffolk, with the silver award and £3,000 going to farmer and former gamekeeper Graham Denny for the “exceptional” quality of the environment surrounding the family-owned shoot and the clear interest in overall biodiversity taken by the Dennys.

The bronze award and £2,000 was given to Lindisfarne Island’s Wildfowling Club, noted as a “quite exceptional wildfowling shoot” and for its work in having a wholly sustainable operation on land which also support a public nature reserve.

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Remarkable features

A number of other awards were also received. Swannybrook Farm in Oxfordshire won an advisory visit from the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, with the judges remarking that it is “a well-run family shoot, but all the more remarkable because its owner, James Thomson, has continued to manage the shoot himself in spite of being paralysed following a skiing accident”.

Both Walton shoot in Somerset and Katherine Astor, of the Kirby estate in Berkshire, won a special award of £1,000 for community engagement.

The judges felt that “the most remarkable feature of the Walton shoot is that anyone manages to run a shoot here at all” due to its location “sandwiched” between the M5 motorway and the Bristol Channel, “yet the syndicate enjoys 18 thoroughly sporting days, with bags on driven days sometimes reaching 200 head”.

Mrs Astor was commended for carrying on the conservation work of her late husband, Richard, and for the shoot’s engagement with schools and conservation groups.

“Highly commended” certificates were given out to finalists John Harris, owner of Brackenburgh shoot in Penrith, Cumbria; Charles Lane-Fox, owner of Bignell Park Farm, near Bicester, Oxfordshire, and Luke Wilkinson, who owns Bransdale Moor in West Yorkshire.