Monday 5 August 2019


Brian Lyall (right) receiving the Ronnie Rose award from SGA Chairman Alex Hogg.
A Head Gamekeeper from Sutherland’s role in encouraging future generations into rural occupations has been recognised with a major award at Moy Highland Field Sports Fair.
Brian Lyall started out at Badanloch Estate as a seasonal ghillie in 1976 before graduating to Head Gamekeeper; a position he holds today.
As well as looking after stalking and fishing guests, he has carried on a rich tradition of rural education which was developed by former owner, the late Lord Leverhulme.
Viscount Leverhulme believed in the duty to instruct future generations and Badanloch Estate became the first in Scotland to accept students from North Highland College UHI, as part of their training, in 1986.
On Friday, Brian’s ability to pass on his knowledge of wildlife management and the special flora and fauna of the Flow country was recognised with the Ronnie Rose Award.
The trophy, in memory of late author and forester Ronnie Rose MBE, is presented annually ‘for lasting contributions to conservation or education’.
It is judged by the committee of its inaugurators, The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA), with oversight from the family of Ronnie Rose.
“When we received the nomination for Brian, it was not a difficult decision,” said Alex Hogg, Chairman of The Scottish Gamekeepers Association.
“His knowledge of wildlife makes him special. There are few who know more than him and he continues to pass that knowledge on. This is deserved recognition for a true countryman and I am very proud to present it, on behalf of the Rose family.”
As well as carrying out estate activities, Brian works part-time at North Highland College’s Rural Studies Centre at Thurso.
Young male and female gamekeepers and wildlife managers learn practical skills and theoretical practice from his lively sessions.
Many committees and groups have benefited from Brian’s expertise over the years and he regularly shares this experience of contemporary issues with students and staff, helping to make sure our curriculum is always connected to ‘real life’ in Rural Scotland,” said David Shaw, lecturer in game keeping from the University of the Highlands and Islands.  
Whilst maintaining proud sporting traditions at the estate, Brian’s careful gamekeeping skills have led to a wildlife bounty at Badanloch.
The estate holds several protected designations for rare plant and bird species including olive bog-moss Sphagnum majus as well as threatened waders and breeding Ptarmigan.
“When I knew I had won the trophy, I was shocked,” said Brian. “Personally, it is reward in itself for me to see youngsters progressing and doing well in the industry but this is a real honour.”
SGA Chairman Alex Hogg also presented 3 long service medals at Moy Game Fair for 40 years of un-broken service to gamekeeping, stalking, gillie-ing or wildlife management.
Sandy Reid (75), who is still working as a part-time wildlife safari guide with Atholl Estates, collected his medal from the SGA Chairman.
So, too, did 70 year old Sandy Walker, who started out at Gaick Estate in the mid sixties and John Styles (70), who retired from Cullerlie Estate in Aberdeenshire earlier this year.

Information about the Ronnie Rose Award.

The award, created by The Scottish Gamekeepers Association in 2015, is for lasting contributions to conservation, habitat, species management or rural education on river, low ground, hill or forest.
Ronnie Rose MBE was a central figure in the SGA’s development, an acclaimed author, forester, and wildlife manager.
His pioneering principles of forest design, which viewed wildlife as an asset, saw him oversee a 300 percent increase in bird species in the forests of Eskdalemuir.
It is in his memory that this annual award is presented, at Moy Highland Field Sports Fair. 
In a 50 year career, Ronnie Rose, whose father and grandfather were both Balmoral Head Stalkers, received many conservation accolades including the Balfour Brown Trophy for Humane and Sustainable Management of Deer.
He helped establish the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park in Loch Lomond and his pioneering work for Economic Forestry Group Scotland at Eskdalemuir is a permanent legacy to his stewardship.
At neighbouring Blackhouse Forest, his management saw lekking blackcock rise by over 50 percent at a time of spiralling national decline.

His book, Working with Nature: The Conservation and Management of Scottish Wildlife is still widely read and appreciated today.

All the award winners from Moy Highland Field Sports Fair, with SGA Chairman Alex Hogg.
Brian Lyall, Sandy Reid, Sandy Walker and John Styles.