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Young keepers recognised for giving ‘heart and soul’

Two recipients of the 2023 GWT Young Gamekeeper of the Year award.

The annual Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust (GWT) Young Gamekeeper of the Year has been awarded to two youngsters this year – 17-year-old Jess Smith and 18-year-old Iwan Duxbury. 

The award recognises the contribution of young people on shoots and estates. Iwan received the award after stepping up to help his father Stephen on the Pen-y-Lan shoot in Wrexham. Last season, Stephen was diagnosed with prostate cancer and began chemotherapy the week the birds were due for release. 

In his father’s absence, Iwan ran six shoot days with “true professionalism”. 

Jess Smith was also recognised for her work on her father’s shoot at Bretby Park, Derbyshire. A BASC Young Shots journalist, Jess brought friends from the local Young Farmers’ Club to the beating line, where she runs her own team and works the spaniels she trained. 

GWT CEO Helen Benson said: “Iwan not only rose to the challenge of running a shoot, he did it during a difficult time. What an incredible young man to be coming into the gamekeeping profession. Keepering roles are all-consuming and take up so much of our lives. 

“Jess putting her heart and soul into gamekeeping… is a wonderful example of young people participating in that lifestyle.”