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SRUC Elmwood Gamekeeping Students in New Charity Calendar – Gamekeeper Girls

Published Wednesday, 18th June 2014 in Study at SRUC news

Gamekeeping girls

Two gamekeeping students from Scotland’s Rural College are among the ladies chosen to feature in a charity calendar in aid of the Gamekeepers Welfare Trust.

Holly Swaney (24) from Dalgety Bay and Billie Mackay (18) from Portskerra by Thurso were photographed in locations at the SRUC Elmwood campus in Cupar where they study. The calendar will be launched at this year's Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust Scottish Game Fair held at Scone Palace from 4-6 July.

The Gamekeeper’s Welfare Trust is a well established charity which provides financial support for gamekeepers, stalkers, ghillies and their families in times of hardship, ill health or retirement. In addition to a helpline which is available at all times there is a texting service for use across the gamekeeping industry. The Trust also offers guidance and help to young gamekeepers starting their career.

The calendar photo shoots, featuring lady gamekeepers in their working environment, have been received very positively. Helen Benson, the charity’s Chief Operating Officer, said:

“We have been travelling around taking photographs for the new calendar and what a pleasure it has been. Meeting fantastic people in quite stunning locations. During the Elmwood shoot we had good fun trying to create the illusion of a beating line on a shoot day in wintertime.”

Holly commented: “Being asked to do the photo shoot was quite surreal, but I was really happy to be involved. Billie and I had a great time and Helen made a lot of fuss over us! It was nice that other students and our lecturer Jim Goodlad got involved too. It was really good fun."

Billie agreed the day had been fun and easy going: “It was great to part of the photo shoot and to be involved in such a worthwhile cause,” she said.

The two Elmwood volunteers put their names forward after their lecturer Jim was approached by the Trust earlier in the year. He had no hesitation in recommending the only two girls among the excellent course intake.

“Being such a male-dominated industry, we welcomed both girls to the course, and it was clear to see from an early stage, that their grit and determination to succeed would allow them to progress and prosper throughout their course with ease.”

Now in its fourth year the calendar was Helen Benson’s idea. While this year’s theme is Gamekeeping Ladies, previous themes have included The Lady and the Gamekeeper, and Girls and Gun Dogs. The calendar features tweed clad gamekeepers, a range of working dogs, pictured in scenic locations across Scotland, England and Wales and based round the shooting calendar.

“I have been absolutely delighted with the reception the previous calendars received,” said Helen. “I hope this one can be just as or even more popular."

To contact Helen Benson phone 01677 470180 or email To speak to Holly Swaney phone 07815 832160. To contact Billie Mackay phone 07805 987227.

SRUC currently offers an NQ in Gamekeeping at its Elmwood Campus. This course gives candidates the under pinning knowledge and skills associated with upland and lowland gamekeeping. Amongst topics studied are deer biology and stalking, shoot day skills, use of shotgun & sporting rifles, pest & predator control, game meat hygiene, public relations for field sports, work experience, and health & safety for the lone worker.

Photo caption (L-R): Holly Swaney and Billie Mackay

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