Friday 13 September 2013


A Perthshire teenager honing his craft at the royal estate of Balmoral has been named The Scottish Gamekeepers Association’s Young Gamekeeper of the Year 2013.Despite his tender years, judges were impressed with the aptitude of 18 year old Greg Sinclair, who has already gained experience at both Atholl Estates and the Queen’s estate in Deeside.The award recognizes the contribution made to responsible game management in Scotland by a young gamekeeper, ghillie, wildlife manager or ranger.Candidates are recommended by estates and course leaders from Scotland’s three gamekeeping colleges.The winner is then judged from a short-list, with criteria including adherence to law and best practice and an understanding of the value of gamekeeping to Scotland’s biodiversity and economy.Raised in Alyth, Greg entered the profession initially through a 2 year Skillseekers programme at North Highland College UHI in Thurso.He is now studying for a National Certificate through the college whilst working at Balmoral and has gained experience of management from riverbank to mountaintop.SGA Chairman Alex Hogg said: “There were a number of very good candidates; youngsters that represent the next generation.“Their work in creating the conditions for gamebirds and other wildlife such as Curlew, Lapwing, Plover, red squirrel and Black Grouse to flourish in our countryside is vital. Responsible game management brings so much to Scotland and to rural communities and that is why it is so important to have a well trained, skilled workforce of the future.“Greg has already worked with deer, grouse and on the salmon rivers and shows great potential. He is held in high regard by his college lecturers and on the estates where he has been learning his craft. We are delighted for him and, indeed, all the youngsters that were interviewed on the short-list for the award.”Greg first took an interest in gamekeeping when helping his brother on an estate when he was only 12.At Atholl Estates he managed for deer, grouse and salmon as well as looking after stalking ponies and engaging with sporting clients on shoot and stalking days.His current role at Balmoral encompasses a similar wide spectrum.“It is great to win this award. I have been interested in gamekeeping from a very young age and I took the opportunity to learn through the college and through the practical work on the estates, which I have really enjoyed,” he said.“Managing the countryside keeps everything the way it should be and helps maintain a balance. It is not just gamebirds. The work of gamekeepers is very important for other species. We have Black Grouse at Balmoral, for example, and there was a lot at Atholl as well.”Minister for Environment and Climate Change, and Chair of PAW Scotland, Mr Paul Wheelhouse said: “I am very pleased that a young gamekeeper, Greg Sinclair, and all the other nominees, are being recognised for their contribution to responsible countryside management. It is always encouraging to see young people making the most of skilled and specialized training and then graduating into work.“Countryside sports create valuable income and employment in rural areas.“This award recognizes that young gamekeepers, ghillies, wildlife managers and rangers have an important and varied role to play in managing Scotland’s natural environment and ensuring that safe, modern and progressive land management practices are promoted.” The final short-list for SGA Young Gamekeeper of the Year 2013. Greg Sinclair Connor Campbell Paul Rafferty Ryan Stewart. All finalists deserve recognition for their contribution to their profession. The SGA would like to pass on its best wishes to all as they pursue their careers.