Friday 19 December 2014


Pheasants and other game make delicious, lean and nutritious festive dishes.

Gamekeepers, estates, local councillors, charities and volunteers in Aberdeenshire are gearing up to supply fresh game to vulnerable people in their local community this Christmas.
Rural poverty is often poorly understood and its affects can hit hardest during the long winter months when weather may also serve to isolate people from their neighbours.
Now, thanks to groundwork from Councillor Geva Blackett of Braemar, a community team will work with the Home-Start families charity and social services to supply fresh game and fuel to those who may benefit from support over the festive season.
The idea crystallised from social media conversations between members of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association who recognised the role gameestates could potentially play in making the festive season easier.
Councillor Linda Clark of Banchory has also used her personal networks to ensure the provisions can be supplied and used most effectively. 
One estate, Tillypronie, is to supply pheasants, with Balmoral donating logs and vegetables. Scottish Gamekeepers Association member Audrey Dykes has also arranged for her shooting syndicate to offer venison.
The game will be freshly laddered and delivered to meet food safety standards.
Game recipes, with clear cooking instructions, will also be handed out, in case recipients are unaccustomed to working with game in the kitchen.
Councillor Blackett said: “It may not always be so high profile but rural poverty is an issue of concern. People may be sitting at the top of remote glens, for example, and folk may be unaware about their concerns or what is going on with them.
“Some may be finding it hard to heat their houses in winter, let alone have the means to cook and eat good quality fresh food.
“It has been great working with people in the local area to see what can be done to help, and bringing it all together.
“It would be nice to think it could maybe make a small difference to an individual or a family in the festive season.”
Councillor Linda Clark praised the community-mindedness of all who have come together to help out, from the idea to the conception stage.
“Having worked myself in the voluntary services, I know there are financially vulnerable people who will find things tougher in winter. I commend everyone involved because this is practicality in action at community level.
“We have also had people volunteering to assist with the deliveries. Whether recipients take up the offer is, of course, up to them. Hopefully though, if they do, it might mean they can spend the money they have on something else. As we know, Christmas can be an expensive time for all of us.”

Councillor Geva Blackett visiting a local Foodbank. Geva pulled the scheme together after listening to SGA members' conversations on social media.