By Jamie Daniell, Membership Recruiter
This year for the first time there will be a number of English game fairs rather than one, so there has been a certain anticipation surrounding the first – the Field & Country Fair held at Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire on 10-12 June. I’m delighted that in terms of new member recruitment and profile raising for the GWCT, the show was a great success.
As it was a much smaller event than some previous events we have attended, the showground had a more intimate feel and was reminiscent of game fairs and country shows past.
The GWCT stand itself also underwent some notable changes. Gone is the large marquee that was a familiar sight at previous shows, and in its place a smaller stand with a simpler look. It was something of an experiment and I am delighted to say that it definitely worked.
Undoubtedly, the most eye-catching sight was the banner inviting visitors to the stand to ‘have your say’ on reintroduction of lynx to areas across the UK, which is being proposed by a number of organisations.
In addition, the opinion poll that we ran, which invited visitors to drop a counter into a tube to indicate if they support the reintroduction or not, was certainly an attraction. It many cases it led to some fascinating conversations with myself and other GWCT staff on the stand, and even brought us some new members!
Such a controversial issue as lynx reintroduction was always expected to polarise visitors, and this was certainly the case. Those in the ‘no’ camp were as adamant as those on the other side of the fence, but interestingly there were also a number of people who felt that reintroduction could be a possibility if managed correctly.
Ultimately it was the ‘nos’ that had it, with 108 votes against, 21 votes for reintroduction and 10 people undecided.
The division of opinion on the lynx reintroduction represents a conservation dilemma we have faced before and will undoubtedly face again. Just look at the news about red kites this weekend.
Once on the brink of extinction, the breeding programme has been so successful that the birds are now a common sight hovering in the skies over the Chilterns, and there have been reports that some people living in the area are even starting to view the birds as a nuisance.
Getting back to the Field & Country Fair, there was a certain element of expectation from exhibitors and visitors alike, but the first day and the rest of the weekend had a very pleasant atmosphere. In terms of introducing the GWCT to new members, if this is an indicator for the rest of the summer then it will be successful indeed.
If you are interested in joining our team to recruit new members to the Trust at appropriate private sites and countryside events, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.