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Young gamekeeper gathers top award and a job
2:29pm Wednesday 3rd October 2012 in Farming
A YOUNG gamekeeper has secured his future after winning a national award – and being offered a full-time job on one of the finest grouse moors in the country.
Lee Alderson was named the 2012 Best Gamekeeping Student by the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) after being nominated by Newton Rigg College, Penrith.
The 17-year-old, from Kirkby Stephen, began an apprenticeship on the famous Wemmergill Estate in June after leaving Kirkby Stephen Grammar School.
He is following in the footsteps of Edward Braithwaite, his maternal grandfather, who has been gamekeeping for more than 40 years.
Lee, an apprentice on the Wemmergill Estate, which straddles the North Yorkshire/County Durham border, is on a two-year gamekeeping and countryside management course at Newton Rigg.He said: “Ive always enjoyed country life and country sports, from being a boy when I used to go out with my granda.
“As I got older, I started going beating on weekends and in the holidays. I enjoyed it so much that I decided I wanted to make gamekeeping my career rather than just taking up shooting as a hobby.”
He was full of praise for the college where he is expected to gain his workbased diploma in February.
He will then begin as a fulltime underkeeper at Wemmergill, one of the country’s most historic and prolific grouse moors.
He said: “I couldn’t have a better place to work than Wemmergill. The headkeeper, John Pinkney, and everyone there takes time to teach me,” he said.
He will be presented with the award, including the Frank Jenkins Memorial Trophy, by Lindsay Waddell, chairman of the NGO at the Midland Game and Country Fair in Shropshire.
A spokesman for the NGO judging panel said there were many excellent candidates for the award: “Even given the stiff competition, Lee’s entry stood out for its dedication and enthusiasm for the job.
He is a thoroughly deserving, high-calibre winner whom we feel will be a credit to the gamekeeping profession.”
Wes Johnson, college principal, said: “This is a huge honour for Lee and for the college.”
Tutor Derrick Byas said: “In September, we will have ten first years and 15 second years.”
The college is seeking employers who want to take on apprentices and help encourage the next generation of keepers. The Government offers employers a grant of £1,500 per apprentice taken on.