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Inspirational Gerald Gray Wins Bellamy Award

The NGO Educational Trust has called grey-partridge guru Gerald Gray, the 2016 winner of its Bellamy Award, an “inspiration to others” in his unflagging dedication to working towards a better public understanding of the crucial role gamekeepers play in sustaining a countryside rich in wildlife. This year’s holder of the award, the headkeeper at the Hillborough Estate in Norfolk, has earned a reputation among his peers for never missing any opportunity to bang the drum for keepering and conservation, from tiny village halls to primetime BBC.

The principal aim of the NGO Educational Trust is to promote awareness of the need for sustainable wildlife management in the countryside, stressing the significance of the conservation work carried out by keepers. It launched the NGO Educational Trust Bellamy Award in 2010 to recognise those who display exceptional creativity and initiative in promoting the gamekeeper's role in sustainable countryside management.

Gerald Gray, the winner of the NGO Educational Trust Bellamy Award, said: “I am truly delighted. It is, in equal part, a great honour and a great pleasure. I had no inkling at all that it was in the offing, and I thought the shooting world could not keep secrets! I would like to thank the NGO Educational Trust, both for its kindness in presenting me with the NGO Educational Trust Bellamy Award and for being pivotal in helping to spread the word about keepering. Gamekeepers are real conservationists, our work sustains a healthy countryside, and we must all shout it from the rooftops, whenever we can.”

Brian Hayes, the NGO Educational Trust Administrator, said: “Gerald is a more than worthy winner of the NGO Educational Trust Bellamy Award: he has a whirlwind of enthusiasm for the promotion of gamekeeping. I want to thank him for having single-handedly changed the way vast numbers of people see keepering. I have no doubt in my mind that Gerald’s unceasingly persistent, but unfailingly courteous and charming approach, to opening the eyes of those blind to the environmental work of keepers, is an inspiration to others.”

The trophy received by Gerald Gray is made from a piece of bog oak many thousands of years old. It was presented to the NGO Educational Trust by the conservationist (and NGO Patron) Professor David Bellamy to symbolise the enduring nature of mankind's relationship with the living landscape.

Gerald Gray, a passionate advocate of wild partridge conservation, and a member of the Norfolk Partridge Group for 30 years, has left no stone unturned in making the case for keeper-led conservation throughout his career. He has imbued many, many others with the same love and enthusiasm for the “little, grey bird”, forging productive relationships with a broad spectrum of conservation bodies, including the RSPB and Natural England. He has also trained many underkeepers who have, themselves, gone onto be great advocates for keepering – and partridges.

No listing could ever do justice to the many and varied ways by which Gerald Gray has championed keepering and conservation, but it would include: bringing keepering alive for countless parties of school children over the decades; sitting on – and helping to steer – Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust technical committees; and being a regular spokesman for keepering on TV and in the press. He is, undoubtedly, also a “go-to-guy” for the BBC, and was even invited to take part in a national BBC discussion group to explore the media’s portrayal of rural issues.

Picture (l-r): Brian Hayes, the NGO Educational Trust Administrator, presents Gerald Gray, the winner of the 2016 NGO Educational Trust Bellamy Award, with the trophy.

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Posted: 24 Oct 2016

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