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Gamekeeper honoured with national award

A PEEBLESSHIRE gamekeeper has been hailed a rural hero by the TV gardening expert Alan Titchmarsh. Alex Hogg, 56, head keeper on Portmore Estate in Eddleston, has won the National Gamekeepers Organisation’s Bellamy Award.

 

The annual trophy formally acknowledges individuals who have excelled in promoting the role of the gamekeeper in sustainable countryside management.

Mr Hogg, the son of a shepherd, started out as a gamekeeper in 1974 and worked for the Forestry Commission in Scotland.

A highly respected member of the community, he has campaigned tirelessly to promote the gamekeepers’ professional role as chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers' Association.

Mr Titchmarsh, who has his own show on the BBC, said: “Alex Hogg is the real deal. He’s a genuine rural hero, a man who has selflessly and tirelessly championed the gamekeeper’s role in managing the Scottish countryside in a sustainable way, and through challenging times.

“So much so, I know he’s already a bit of ‘legend’ in keepering circles. He’s a very worthy winner.”

Gamekeepers enhance habitat and legally control abundant predators such as crows and foxes in order to produce a surplus of quarry for sport shooting.

This work benefits other species, with the latest statistics showing conservation work for shooting in Scotland represents the equivalent of 3,900 full-time conservation jobs.

Mr Hogg feels, however, that the industry is poorly-understood, with 49 out of 50 people in the UK admitting to not having met a gamekeeper.

“We, at the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, respect everyone’s right to have an opinion on gamekeeping and shooting but the reality is that, without boots on the ground managing predators and looking after things from mountain to sea, we would not have the rich flora and fauna we have in Scotland.

“I have been in this line of work for 40 years and the biggest satisfaction I get from the long hours in all weathers is seeing the many and varied species benefit from proper management.

“It’s a real honour to receive this award from the NGO and have it presented by Alan, although it should really be going to all the gamekeepers and their families who give so much to Scotland, from keeping rural communities prosperous to helping all the small unprotected species which are declining, worryingly, on land where there are no such guardians.”

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