Royal family's enthusiasm helps Sandringham estate win conservation award at Royal Norfolk Show
PUBLISHED: 10:23 27 June 2018 | UPDATED: 10:30 27 June 2018
Archant © 2018
The Royal family was thanked for its commitment to boosting grey partridge numbers at Sandringham as the Queen's retiring agent and gamekeeper were presented with a coveted conservation prize.
The Grey Partridge Award, which promotes the recovery of grey partridge numbers across the county, was presented to the Sandringham estate by law firm Mills & Reeve at the opening of the 2018 Royal Norfolk Show.
The trophy was handed to the Queen’s agent Sir Marcus O’Lone, and head keeper David Clark.
Sir Marcus, who retires this week after 20 years at the estate, said the prize was a tribute to the work of Mr Clark and his team of keepers – but also the enthusiasm of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh towards the project.
“I would like to put on record my appreciation to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh for their support. At Sandringham, at times, we have described it in terms of throwing the kitchen sink at this project, and without their support we could not have achieved what we have done.
“David and his team of keepers have done a tremendous amount to improve things at Sandringham. His greatest achievement was in 2012 to have 2,350 pairs in the count.
“I have been lucky enough to have the privilege of shooting with the Royal family and one day we were just shy of 300 brace of English partridges. David said if only I had been a better shot we would have had 300 brace.”
On his retirement, Sir Marcus added: “To work for your monarch is great honour, and I have enjoyed that. I have worked with the Duke of Edinburgh for most of my time here and he is a remarkable man to work for.
“He is very personally involved. He is a keen field sportsman, and it is his enthusiasm and commitment to grey partridges has helped David to have the success that we have had.”
Mr Clark, who retired earlier this year after 17 years at the estate, said a combination of factors had helped keep the partridge count high.
“It is a lot of conservation work and winter feeding,” he said. “We put a lot of crops in for insects and a lot of over-winter crops to get the birds through the winter months. It has all been driven by the Duke of Edinburgh, without a doubt.”
Justin Ripman, senior partner at Mills and Reeve said the award – unusually made without the customary shortlist – recognised the “enormous efforts” made by the estate over the years to increase grey partridge numbers, and the significant contributions of the two retiring estate staff.