Gamekeepers at the start and the end of their careers were celebrated for their commitment to the profession with awards at the Midland Game Fair this month.
Trainee keeper Jack Depledge from North Yorkshire has won this year’s National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) Frank Jenkins Memorial Trophy.
The award, which is sponsored by Musto, is given to the best full or part-time gamekeeping student or apprentice of the academic year and is named for the late Frank Jenkins, a well-known gamekeeper whose career spanned six decades.
NGO chairman, and Shooting Times contributor, Liam Bell presented the award to 18-year-old Jack at the Midland Game Fair earlier this month.
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Win for young gamekeeper
Described as a “model student” by his lecturers, Jack completed his full-time studies this summer on the extended diploma game and countryside management course at Newton Rigg College in Cumbria, part of Askham Bryan College. He has now been employed as a trainee keeper in the Angus Glens.
Jack said: “I am overjoyed to have won the 2017 NGO Frank Jenkins Memorial Trophy. It is most unexpected and I’d very much like to thank the NGO and Musto. The award will stand me in huge good stead on my career path. I am not from a keepering family, I started beating at about five years old when my dad joined a small syndicate in North Yorkshire. It led to me becoming a regular beater on a commercial shoot, and helping them at weekends. I love the grouse moors in Scotland where I’m working as a trainee keeper, and hope to be a headkeeper one day, fingers crossed.”
Award for long service
Jack was not the only keeper being awarded at the Midland Game Fair this year, as the NGO unveiled its new Long Service Award.
There were six recipients of the accolade, recognising full-time gamekeepers, stalkers and gillies with 40 or more years of employment. They were: Ian Garfoot, 61, headkeeper at Westwick estate in Norfolk; Steven Hamar, 56, headkeeper on the Bulland shoot, near Taunton; Kevin Hubbard, 64, who is retired after a career including three decades spent at the Lower Lodge shoot in West Sussex; Godfrey Pitman, 59, who retired after many years at Druids Lodge estate in Wiltshire; Alec Throup, 57, from Bolton Abbey in North Yorkshire; and Michael Warren, 67, who is also retired but spent many years working at Sandling Park in Ken.
Several posthumous awards were also received at the fair, one to Frank Jenkins, whose legacy includes the eponymous memorial trophy won by Jack Depledge, which was collected by his son Martin, also a gamekeeper. The other was made to Stephen Vale, who had worked at the Cornbury Park estate in Oxfordshire and the Eling estate in Berkshire. Members of the Vale family were presented with a duplicate long service medal and a certificate.
While, also earlier in 2017, William Webb, received a long service award in recognition of his 50 years of employment at the Broadlands estate, Hampshire.
Liam Bell shared his admiration for the recipients: “As a working gamekeeper with significantly fewer than 40 years’ service, I feel greatly honoured to have been able to present the NGO Long Service Award to my peers as I know the tremendous commitment these individuals have made to keepering and to managing our countryside, which would be a far poorer place without them. It was fascinating to hear their collective keepering experiences, and about their lives. I truly hope young keepers today will be inspired by their wonderful example.”