A Borders gamekeeper has been described as a ‘rural hero’ by TV gardener
Alan Titchmarsh for his work in championing good countryside management.
Alex Hogg (56), a gamekeeper for 40 years, will be presented with the NGO Educational Trust’s Bellamy Award by the broadcaster today (friday 19th July) at CLA Game Fair at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire.
Presenter and novelist Titchmarsh will deliver the trophy- made from a piece of bog oak many thousands of years old- in person, in his capacity as patron of the NGO.
The honour, awarded annually, formally acknowledges individuals who have excelled in promoting the role of the gamekeeper in sustainable countryside management.
Mr Hogg, son of a shepherd, started out as a keeper in 1974 and also worked for The Forestry Commission in Scotland in his early life.
A highly respected member of his local community, near Peebles, he has
campaigned tirelessly to promote the gamekeepers’ professional role as Chairman of The Scottish Gamekeepers Association.
Yorkshireman Titchmarsh, son of a plumber and mill worker, 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 latest PACEC report statistics showing conservation work for shooting in Scotland represents the equivalent of 3900 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 and gaining their views through the media.
“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 forty 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.”