A GAMEKEEPER has been presented with a national award by environmentalist Professor David Bellamy for his work in promoting conservation and education on a North Yorkshire grouse moor.

George Thompson, who has won the Bellamy Trophy and a cheque for £500, is head grouse moor keeper at Spaunton Moor, near Pickering, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.

Over 21 years spent working on the moor’s 7,000 acres, he has “trumpeted the moorland conservation message” to tens of thousands of individuals at local events and also at international conservation forums, said his employer and Moorland Association vice-chairman George Winn-Darley.

“He regularly holds well-attended, see-for-yourself open days for the public on the moor,” he said.

“He is a very deserving winner and it is a great accolade for grouse moor management to be recognised by Professor Bellamy.”

The trophy, awarded annually by the professor and the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation Educational Trust, was launched in 2009 to recognise exceptional creativity and initiative in promoting the gamekeepers’ role in sustainable countryside management.

Mr Thompson said it was “wonderful” to have won.

“For the sake of wildlife, it is vital people know the truth about the effectiveness of gamekeeper-driven conservation,” he said.

“It is a lifeline for much of the UK’s flora and fauuna. That’s why I champion it at every opportunity.

“For instance, golden plover, lapwing and curlew are declining countrywide. Yet on my moor, these vulnerable ground-nesting birds are stable or increasing in numbers.”

He said heather moorland was a habitat of international conservation importance that supported a rich variety of wildlife, and it was the hard work of gamekeepers in managing the ground for red grouse that kept it that way.

Prof Bellamy described gamekeepers as “powerhouses for conservation”.

He said: “Keepers do what many other groups just waffle about, energetically conserve habitat and wildlife... Three cheers for keepers.”