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Busy Scottish Game Fair set to break records

Rachael Griffin (24) from Glasgow with gun dogs Wolf the Springer Spaniel and Nala the Red Labrador.
Rachael Griffin (24) from Glasgow with gun dogs Wolf the Springer Spaniel and Nala the Red Labrador.

The Scottish Game Fair is shaping up for a record-breaking year, thanks to soaring temperatures and a bumper line-up.

Tens of thousands flocked to Scone Palace for day one of the country’s biggest outdoor show.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the fair, run by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, boasts its biggest line-up of traders, competitions and main ring events.

In the morning, families were treated to a spectacular birds of prey demonstration, with huge eagles soaring over the crowds.

A Junior McNab event, organised to coincide with Scotland’s Year of Young People, also proved a big hit with families. Youngsters, aged eight and up, were given the chance to shoot a dummy rabbit and catch a trout.

The overcast morning gave way to blue skies and sunshine in the afternoon, helping boost attendance yet further.

Head of events at GWCT Sarah Ballantyne said: “We are really happy with the way the fair is shaping up. This could be our biggest year ever.

“This was certainly the busiest Friday morning we’ve had.”

She said the rest of a weekend will feature fair favourites, as well as a host of new family-friendly activities.

A ceilidh on Saturday evening will mark the fair’s milestone anniversary.

Meanwhile, teams from across the UK are competing on islands in the River Tay as part of the Four Nations International Gundog contest.

Friday also saw the launch of the new Labrador Gin, developed to raise support for unwanted dogs.

The drink is a team-up between the Persie Distillery in Glenshee and Perth-based dog rescue charity PADS.

For each bottle sold, Persie Distillery will donate £1 to PADS, in addition to an annual lump sum, all of which will go towards providing care and shelter for abandoned dogs.

Simon Fairclough, distiller and managing director, said: “As Persie Distillery entered its third year of trading, we wanted to look to the future and give something back to the wider community that supported us in our start-up years.

“Our ambition was to team up with a dedicated charity partner and donate both time and money to make a difference to a specific cause over the next five years. As everyone in the team is dog mad – with four regular distillery dogs – the vote was unanimous: we create dog gins for a dog rescue charity.”

Alison Kennedy, director at PADS, added: “We feel that this is an ideal partnership between a thriving Perthshire business and one of the county’s best-known and best-loved charities.”

Gamekeepers of the year

Scotland’s young gamekeeper of year was crowned at Scone Palace, during the first day of the fair.

Craig Hepburn, 22, received the top title from The Scottish Gamekeepers Association.

Selected from a final shortlist of three, the highlander, who works at Candacraig Estate, at Strathdon, was honoured by SGA Vice Chairman Peter Fraser and NFUS Vice President Martin Kennedy.

Also receiving the inaugural SGA long service medals were four stalwarts still employed after over 40 years of managing Scotland’s countryside.

James Ferguson, Michael Ewan, Lea McNally and Colin Espie received specially engraved medals for unbroken service.

SGA Vice Chairman Peter Fraser said: “It is great to see ambassadors, spanning the generations, being recognised. In Scotland’s Year of Young People, we have Craig — in his early career — standing shoulder to shoulder with individuals whose passion and devotion to good land and river management are examples to all.

“Scotland is internationally renowned for its landscape and it is the gamekeepers, farmers, ghillies and land managers, with their hours of toil and care, at the frontline.

“These professions and the skills and stewardship required bring people to Scotland, put food on tables, sustain fragile wildlife and keep young people and opportunity in our glens.”

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