A GAMEKEEPER who works in the district has scooped a national award.

Raymond Holt has been named gamekeeper of the month for July, by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).

The gun dog enthusiast is the first gamekeeper to be employed by the Kennel Club, and he is based at the organisation’s Emblehope and Burngrange Estate, between Kielder and Otterburn, which opened in 2017.

“I am delighted to have been selected as the gamekeeper of the month by BASC,” said Raymond, who built up over 30 years experience on various estates across Scotland before taking on the Hexham job.

His career has included 10 years on the renowned Kinpurnie estate near Dundee, where a number of field trials were held every year, including the very successful 1990 International Gundog League championship.

He added: “As the first gamekeeper to be employed by the Kennel Club, I very much enjoy working at the Emblehope and Burngrange Estate.

“Gamekeeping is not just a career, it is a way of life, so this is a role I find very satisfying and to have been recognised by BASC like this for my work is definitely a bonus.”

Each month this year, BASC is profiling a UK gamekeeper and their story as part of Year of the Gamekeeper 2020. The initiative is to support, raise the profile, and safeguard the future of the Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust, a charity which supports gamekeepers, ghillies and stalkers, and their families, in times of hardship as well as helping young people access college courses into future employment. The moorland of the Emblehope and Burngrange Estate comprises 7,550 acres and is ideal for walked up trialling and training for retrievers, spaniels and hunt, point and retrieve (HPR) breeds.

The estate offers both pheasant and partridge shooting and the varied terrain offers opportunities for all breeds of gundog to demonstrate their natural working abilities. Woodland cover provides excellent hunting for spaniels, whilst the stretching moorland is ideal for challenging retrievers and for HPR and pointing breeds to show off their hunting abilities. Working trials (tracking and patrol) and Bloodhound trials are also suited to the terrain.

Tony Allcock OBE, chairman of the Kennel Club, said: “The Emblehope and Burngrange Estate is a relatively ‘new kid on the block’ as far as working dog venues are concerned, so it is wonderful news that BASC has given this accolade to Raymond whose passion and hard work deserve to be honoured in this way.

“We send our congratulations to him as well as our thanks for the sterling work he has done thus far to develop our centre of excellence for working dogs.”

Alex Farrell, game and gamekeeping officer at BASC, said: “The idea of gamekeeper of the month was to showcase the differing roles ‘keepers undertake and how they impact positively on a myriad of different grounds up and down the country.

“The role of the gamekeeper is often undervalued and the profiles give a snapshot of what ‘keepers are doing every day to support our countryside.”

To find out more about the Emblehope and Burngrange Estate, visit www.thekennelclub.org.uk/our-resources/the-emblehope-and-burngrange-estate. To donate visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/GWTYOTG2020.