At a ceremony last week in London, Gary Wilson and Steven Wallis from Essex, and Simon Maudlin from Bedfordshire, were presented with gold awards by passionate conservationist and TV presenter Phil Spencer.

Mr Wilson and Mr Wallis were commended for transforming Berwick Marshes, a formerly derelict industrial site in Rainham, into a wildfowling haven and an SSSI grazed by rare breed Dexter cattle.

Mr Maudlin received his prize for his work at his family’s Caldecote Farm shoot, which now boasts outstanding numbers of wild grey partridges and strong community involvement.

Speaking at the ceremony, chairman of the judges Lord Duoro said: “The judges couldn’t separate these two entries. Both are from the Home Counties, both in their different ways are outstanding shoots of their type, and both focus on home-grown habitat conservation.”

The silver award went to the Camddwr Shooting Society, based near Aberystwyth, which this year is celebrating its golden jubilee. The judges said it was receiving recognition for its “community-spirited conservation efforts and shoot improvement”.

The bronze award was presented to members of the Irish Grouse Conservation Trust for their impressive efforts to re-establish a red grouse population at Glenwherry Moor, in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

The event’s organiser, Richard Purdey, said: “Our judges were impressed by the wide variation of entries this year. We must remember that, without gameshooting, there would be very little motivation or money to undertake conservation work, and without it our countryside’s carefully managed and balanced ecosystem would soon unravel and become barren.”