Celebrating Conservation With The Purdey Awards

Celebrating Conservation With The Purdey Awards

For 25 years and counting, the Purdey Awards have recognised and celebrated how shooting champions the thriving habitats and countryside we’re lucky enough to have in the UK. This week, the latest winners were announced, at a ceremony held in the Long Room at Audley House, bringing a suitable sense of the occasion to proceedings. 

As the judges recognised, each of this year’s finalists were all extraordinarily compelling in their own right. “This was a really strong year with some excellent entries from the length and breadth of the UK,” noted judge Tim Furbank. “From small scale, community projects to larger shoots all the entrants demonstrated outstanding conservation policies which delivered huge biodiversity benefits for myriad wildlife. In addition, the public engagement and community involvement of several projects elevated them to exemplar shoots.”

Gold Award Winner

“We plucked up the courage, we entered and I’m really glad we did, what an amazing result! I feel quite emotional, because I dedicate my life and my soul to my job, so to get the recognition from something as prestigious as this award is just incredible. I’ve always dreamed of this.” – Stewart McIntyre, Hainey Farm Shoot

Hainey Farm Shoot in Cambridgeshire was presented with the Gold Award, acknowledging the significant investment, expertise, scale and commitment to shooting and conservation, as well as the potential to progress even further. Their Estate, Sporting and Conservation Manager, Stewart McIntyre, leads the way with his remarkable knowledge of conservation, applying this to the landscape and in his engagement of the wider community, including local schools, hosting game cookery classes and learning walks, among other initiatives. 

Hainey Farm’s focus on habitat improvement for wider biodiversity is evident. The shoot department is committed to creating greater harmony between intensive arable and horticulture farming, with a suite of habitats ranging from the creation of wetlands and reedbeds to wildflower meadows. “Hainey Farm is a truly exceptional example of what can be achieved,” said judge Marcus Janssen. “Indeed, we were at times left dumbfounded by the level of detail and effort that has gone into making Hainey Farm Shoot as wildlife friendly as possible, and the unstinting desire to constantly learn and improve what they are doing.”

Silver Award Winner

“We’re very proud, it’s a great accolade for our shoot. To show people what an amazing shoot we have is beyond our wildest dreams. We never thought that we would even get shortlisted, so for those thinking of entering, be brave!” – Ben and Philip Smith, Smith & Pearman Family Shoot

The Silver Award was given to Smith & Pearman Family Shoot in Hertfordshire, where community engagement is key and their country stewardship is really supporting wildlife, with particularly impressive conservation work around their woodland and the River Rib. Set across two farms just outside the village of Standon, young and old are involved in all the activities, from building pens and erecting partridge shelters to habitat management. The shoot prioritises quality over quantity, and incorporates around a mile of the river, where they do some amazing work with the Wild Trout Trust, The EA and Natural England. The woodland is also closely managed with much valuable habitat conservation, for example dead trees are often left standing for barn owls and woodpeckers.

Bronze Award Winner

“We’re absolutely delighted. We never thought we would win anything, so to get bronze is massively exciting for us all, we're really thrilled. I would say to anyone who is thinking of taking part, please do. It’s great fun, the judging panel are really interesting, constructive, helpful people and we found the whole process enjoyable and invigorating. I’d recommend it to everyone.” – Nicholas Wrigley, Ganton Hall

The Bronze Award was received by Ganton Hall, a wonderful shoot in the Yorkshire Wolds, led by the owner Nicholas Wrigley who is committed to management that enhances biodiversity, while ensuring the successful running of the estate. Their focus is on flora, with over 100 acres of wildflower meadows and 500 acres of created wetlands — as a result wildlife, including farmland, migrating and nesting birds, is thriving. 

In addition to the Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes, Flea Barn in Suffolk was given a Highly Commended Award, recognising the passion that goes into this small family shoot. Trevennel in Cornwall, received a GWCT visit, in support of its potential and the level and extent achieved in just a few years. And a Lifetime Award was received by Ian Glendinning, chairman of Megargy & District Game & Conservation Society, in recognition of his dedication to educating the public about the long-term benefits of shooting and conservation.

As always, all shortlisted entrants underwent extensive assessment by Dr Mike Swan of the GWCT Advisory Service and were visited by the judges – made up of a panel of 15 experts and chaired by the Duke Of Wellington. This year’s Gold Award winner Stewart McIntyre’s advice for future entrants? “Don’t be afraid to enter. If you’re doing something great for the environment, for shooting, for the countryside, the wider community, then do it.”

Applications for The Purdey Awards 2024 are now open via the Purdey website.