The Purdey Awards for Game and Conservation have been running since 1999, when James Purdey & Sons took over the annual Game and Conservation Awards established by Laurent-Perrier Champagne (UK) Ltd in 1986.
The prime purpose of the Purdey Awards for Game and Conservation is to give reward and recognition to those who are involved in the world of shoot management and conservation, and whose efforts have achieved outstanding results in improving game bird habitats and the biodiversity of their land. The publicity accorded to the Purdey Award winners reaches a far wider audience than just the shooting community, the winning entries each year demonstrating not only a wide diversity of projects and geographic locations, but also that the time and money invested by shoots in game conservation work also benefits many other species of flora and fauna in addition to game birds.
Since 1999 over 250 shoots from every corner of the UK have entered the Purdey Awards. Entries have ranged from grouse moors restorations to grey partridge projects, from fenland wild pheasant shoots to wildfowling clubs, and even a superbly restored one acre wild duck flighting pond. Over 75 individuals, syndicates or clubs have to date won Awards and shared more than £100,000 in prize money.
Entrants are required to complete a comprehensive questionnaire about their shoot, (devised by Dr Nick Sotherton of the GWCT) explaining the way it is run, the work they have undertaken, the results achieved over a given period, such as heather moorland restoration, new hedge or woodland plantings, deforestation, siting of cover crops, or the effectiveness of new scrapes and ponds in attracting wild duck and other waterfowl, and careful logging of bird counts, vermin control, habitat improvements and species biodiversity. Entrants are also required to sign a declaration that they, and all connected with their shoot, and in whatever capacity, are conversant and in compliance with the Code of Good Shooting Practice.
The Purdey Awards calendar commences in January each year, with reminders and advertisements in the shooting press that the Awards open for new entries in late February, and close in mid May, when completed entries are assessed by Dr Mike Swan of the GWCT Advisory Service and Awards organizer Richard Purdey. Their report is sent with copies of the year’s entries to each member of the 16 strong judging panel, chaired by the Duke of Wellington. The panel meets in June to select a shortlist for judging visits in August or September, and reconvenes in October to determine the winners. These remain a closely guarded secret until their names are announced and they receive their Awards and prizes at a ceremony held in Purdey’s famous Long Room in London in the third week in November.