Gamekeepers and ghillies beat a path to Perth

SGA chairman Alex Hogg
SGA chairman Alex Hogg

More than 100 gamekeepers, stalkers and fishing ghillies will gather at McDiarmid Park in Perth this Friday (March 3) to mark a milestone for the Scottish Gamekeepeers Association (SGA).

The organisation is celebrating its 20th anniversary and was formed to represent the country’s gamekeepers, stalkers, river and land ghillies, wildlife managers and rangers at Scotland’s new Parliament.

From attending its first Game Fair at Scone with a scout tent and a few borrowed straw bales, the Perth-based organisation has grown to encompass a membership of more than 5300 people, Scotland-wide.

The principal speaker at this year’s annual general meeting will be Roseanna Cunningham, Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Secretary.

Since 1997 the SGA has represented members in Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels, and helped to develop Scotland’s Access Code.

Alex Hogg, chairman, said that despite initial poor understanding of its members’ work, the SGA has been a key voice in developing Scotland’s deer codes and game seasons and providing best practice training in many aspects of land management.

He said: “The SGA started with nothing but a shared desire from working people to inform folk better about their roles, which were often poorly understood. There was so much political pressure by opposing groups and charities that if we didn’t do something, with the Scottish Parliament about to come into being, there was a feeling ordinary folk would have lost their jobs.

“In that 20 years, I think the SGA has become a respected rural stakeholder providing an honest perspective of land management, straight from the people living and working on the ground who have thousands of combined years of practical knowledge. We have never taken one penny of public money for the work our members give back to Scotland. Yet without this work, I am convinced we would have lost some of our rarer species by now, like the Curlew.

“We continue to represent the skilled and dedicated working men and women who manage vast swathes of our countryside and rivers; a countryside that lures visitors to Scotland every year from all over the world and a sector which generates around £300m a year for the economy.”

The member-only AGM, sponsored by Marsdens Game Feeds, will also feature talks on grouse moor management, restoration work on the River Carron, tracking injured boar and the bird flu restrictions currently in place in Scotland and the UK.