Gamekeepers and charities are game for giving at Christmas

Grampian Moorland Group gamekeepers prepare the food parcels ready for delivery.

Grampian Moorland Group gamekeepers prepare the food parcels ready for delivery.

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Gamekeepers in Angus and Grampian have partnered with three family support charities to provide Christmas dinner with a difference for 87 households.

While turkey may be the traditional festive fare, ‘Game for Giving’ partnership is donating lean venison and fresh pheasant from the regions’ hills and woods to support vulnerable families.

Over the past week, gamekeepers and stalkers have been sourcing the Christmas game whilst undertaking estate duties, with rare delicacies such as woodcock and snipe set to feature, too.

Vegetables, crackers and sweets have been added to the parcels, ready for delivery to charities in Banchory, Brechin and Montrose, assisted by award winning butchers and restaurants.

The innovation is a collaboration between Angus Glens and Grampian Moorland groups, charities ‘Home-Start Deeside’ and ‘Just Play’ as well as ‘Christmas Day Community Meal in Montrose’.

In Grampian, hill venison has been donated by syndicate members of The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, who stalked the deer themselves, with pheasants and vegetables provided by Invercauld and Finzean estates.

Home-Start charity in Deeside will distribute the yuletide parcels to families on Christmas Eve, carefully lardered and prepared by Sheridan’s Butchers in Ballater.

Yesterday, gamekeepers and helpers were packaging casseroles of Angus venison, pheasant, woodcock and snipe, sourced in Glen Esk, and prepared by Brymer’s Butcher of Brechin and Sinclair’s Larder in Edzell.

Complete with pre-cooked vegetables and recipe cards, the game casseroles will go to the families of under fives affected by parental imprisonment, an initiative supported by Scottish Government.

The food parcels will also be distributed at the popular Community Meal at the YMCA in Montrose on Christmas Day, which provides a cooked dinner for those eating alone at Christmas.

Katie Baxter, a community member behind the Christmas Day meal in Montrose, said: “The moorland group’s generosity is really appreciated. In fact we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone in the local area.

“Last year, we had people from all walks of life at the meal, from elderly people who might have been alone or had family overseas, to homeless people grateful for some good food and company. The Game for Giving idea will give people- who have maybe never tasted game or don’t know much about it- a new experience as well as tasty food.”

In Angus, game birds, venison and pheasants were supplied by Gannochy, Invermark and Glenogil estates.

Lianne MacLennan, co-ordinator of Angus Glens and Grampian Moorland groups, said: “It’s been great working with these charities, who do amazing work to help people. Some are doing this all year round, not just Christmas time. The food the groups have donated is local and fresh and we hope folk enjoy it. In Angus, extra pheasant breasts with game cooking cards have been put in the parcels as well, to encourage people to try cooking it for themselves, if they wish.”

The Game for Giving project has won the praise of North East Scotland MSP, Liam Kerr, who has visited some of the partner estates.

He said: “Home Start charity does a vital job supporting families in our community and I am aware Angus Glens Moorland Group and other moorland groups play a similar role. This is a really good project which I fully support.”