GAMEKEEPERS and estates across the North York Moors have teamed up to provide more than 550 fresh local game meals for the homeless and less fortunate.

Since the beginning of December, the North Yorkshire Moors Moorland Organisation (NYMMO) has been working with several community causes to supply healthy ready-made game meals, as part of their Gift of Game initiative.

The initiative is spearheaded by John Cavana, a supporter of NYMMO, who recognised an opportunity for North Yorkshire estates to do their bit and give back to the local community.

On the menu have been pheasant curries and game pies, all prepared by volunteers before being delivered and warmed ready to eat.

Wild and Game, a non-profit making organisation aiming to introduce the public to game meat, also donated ready meals towards the project.

NYMMO has also raised more than £1,000 for The Columba Project in Middlesbrough, which was established by local volunteers in 2003 as a drop-in centre within the community space at The Parish of St Columba two evenings a week.

The project offers support to vulnerable adults, both young and old, and providing hot meals and basic medical care carried out by volunteer nurses.

Maureen Westerman, who set up The Columba Project, said: “Our volunteers are absolutely fantastic and without them we wouldn’t be able to offer our service.

“We have also been so grateful for the game meals we have been receiving from NYMMO which has allowed us to provide delicious and nutritious meals to some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

“This donation of £1,000 from NYMMO’s recent gun dog events was a complete surprise and we are overwhelmed at the kind-hearted generosity of those involved.”

John Cavana said: “I was blown away by the efforts of Maureen and all the volunteers at The Columba Project.

“Showing such community spirit, I knew we could help their cause further.”

Throughout the year the Gift of Game initiative will continue to provide hot meals. Estates within NYMMO will supply local venison during the season and tenant farmers on these estates will provide spring lamb.