The glamour of Hollywood doesn’t compare to the joy of the countryside. Actor Vinnie Jones reminisced about his happy times as a gamekeeper after leaving school when he spoke at the final GWT Gamekeeping for Life conference.

Vinnie Jones
Vinnie Jones

Film star and devoted countryman Vinnie Jones was a guest speaker at the final Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust (GWT) Gamekeeping for Life conference earlier this month.

The Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels star, and former professional footballer, spoke of his passion for gamekeeping and rural life and how he devotes most of his time to shooting and enjoying the countryside when he is in the UK.

Addressing an audience of gamekeepers of all ages at Sparsholt College in Hampshire, Mr Jones said: “The best times of my life have been working as a gamekeeper when I left school.”

Building positive relationships

The conference was introduced by Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust adviser and GWT trustee Dr Mike Swan and included talks by Petworth estate headkeeper David Whitby and Countryside Alliance head of shooting Liam Stokes.

Mr Stokes discussed how the current political climate can affect gamekeepers and how they can take action themselves by building positive relationships with local politicians and journalists.

He told Shooting Times: “It was a really excellent event. I rarely get the opportunity to speak to gamekeepers at every stage of their career, all at the same time. We had keepers with 40 years’ experience sitting next to guys and girls just starting out in college. If there was one message that rang out clearly from all the speakers and attendees, it was a determination to follow the very best practice in all elements of gamekeeping to safeguard the future of the profession.”

Twenty-five years of GWT support

This was the last in a series of conferences celebrating the 25th anniversary of the GWT, which was founded to support gamekeepers, stalkers and gillies.

The GWT’s Helen Benson said: “We are indebted to everyone who agreed to take part, to help others to understand what we do and how we can help. The conferences were first and foremost social occasions. It is so important to gather together and enjoy company, discuss similar problems and just catch up.”