A young gamekeeper who feared he would have to choose between his college course and the offer of a full-time job has won a prestigious national award.
Matthew Harrison, 18, of Slingsby, has been named Gamekeeping Student of the Year by the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation.
Gardener and broadcaster Alan Titchmarsh will present Matthew with The Frank Jenkins Memorial Trophy on Saturday at the Country Landowners’ Association (CLA) Game Fair at Blenheim Palace.
“I’m really excited,” said Matthew. “I’d started a diploma in countryside management at Bishop Burton College and then the offer of a full-time job as under keeper for the Castle Howard Estate came up.
“The team at Bishop Burton were really understanding and worked with Castle Howard so I could still do a day a week at college and get my qualification. It’s been the best of both worlds and I’m so pleased I stuck at the college side of things.”
Matthew’s award commemorates the late Frank Jenkins, a gamekeeper with 63 years’ experience in the field.
The teenager first became interested in gamekeeping at an early age, helping his uncle – who is also a gamekeeper. He has just completed his two year, level three diploma in wildlife and conservation focusing on game.
Chris Dodsworth, curriculum leader at Bishop Burton College, said: “Part way through Matthew’s first year he was offered a job as under keeper on the Castle Howard estate wild bird shoot, so met with a dilemma of finishing his course and missing the opportunity of his ideal job or taking his ideal job and not achieving his qualification.
“Everybody involved was in agreement that Matthew could do both and achieve his qualification as a distance learner attending college one day a week and the rest of his time at work and this has proven to be very successful.
“Matthew was entered for the Frank Jenkins memorial trophy award due to his commitment towards his college course and his dedication and passion towards game keeping. He has beaten off stiff competition from other colleges to win this award and we are very proud of him.”
Matthew has undertaken general game keeping duties which comprise of; wild game counts, habitat management, pest and predator control, feeding up, liaising with neighbours and farmers and preparing for and running successful shoot days. He is a member of Amotherby Young Farmers’ Club.