From Typewriters to Desktops: A 40-Year Adventure at the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

Written by Corinne Duggins (Biometrics Department) in celebration of her 40 years with the GWCT

From typewriters to desktops, and from chasing partridges to managing databases, my journey at the Game Conservancy Trust has been nothing short of an adventure.

Picture it: I was just 26 years old when I applied for the position of computerising the Membership at the Game Conservancy Trust. I did not get the job, but was offered the position of administrating the Cereals and Gamebirds Research Project a few days later. Soon, I found myself knee-deep in cereals and gamebirds, funded by a coalition of farmers led by none other than the illustrious Hugh Oliver-Bellasis and the ever-passionate Dr. Nick Sotherton.

I enjoyed every bit of this work, starting on a typewriter and ending 5-years later with the first desktop computer, an Apricot, which costed the earth at the time. I was most lucky to work within the Research Department under the late Dr Dick Potts, our director, who I still miss every day. Although, less his driving as he was always more interested in spotting grey partridges in the field than watching the road!

I was then promoted to be Professor Nick Sothertons and the department’s secretary for the next 10 years which was hard work but full of joy – I will always see Nick as a wonderful mentor and friend.  I was also lucky to be the secretary for the Allerton Research Project when our demonstration farm was bequest to the Trust.  Extremely interesting to have seen it developing such cutting-edge research on sustainable farming method, biodiversity and habitat created, and rural landscape management.  At the beginning we were more worried about making sure that each field had a gate so the stock would not escape.

Being Swiss and very logical, I was asked eventually if I was happy to take up the challenge to move the Trust to a new membership software and became the Head of the Supporter Relations Department, dealing with the Trust’s membership and donation income. I started interacting with our members, it was always interesting to get feedback and improve the Trust’s relationship with its members and make a change for the better.

Then you name it, I worked with charitable trust fundraising, legacies, patrons, attended many Game Fairs, managed the GWCT fleet and our contact relationship software and finally became the Librarian and the National Game Census administrator, working for the Biometrics Department under Dr Nicholas Aebischer and then Dr Julie Ewald as well as helping with the administration of the multi-national PARTRIDGE Interreg project for Dr Francis Buner, my Swiss compatriot.

During my time, The Trust went from 30 staff to well over 140, but my colleagues over the years have become good friends, part of a bigger family. I would like to name them all, individually, but it would take far too long, needless to say that I would not have lasted 40 years without them nor if my remits had not been interesting and challenging at every turn.

In my spare time, I have a garden and an allotment to keep up, together with being a beader (making jewellery out of tiny glass beads) and miniaturist (working on 12th scale dollshouses for adults), it all helps to keep me sane. I was Chairman of the Miniaturists of Wessex and used to give workshops on making 12th scale furniture, food, flowers and many other items.  My father was an engineer and invented the first “computerised” washing machine with cogged metal plates to change washing cycles and this has rub-off on me as my main pleasure is working out how to make a small item as requested by like-minded collectors.  Once I have worked out how to do it and pass on this knowledge, I am most happy to move to the next challenge.

In all, I have had a most enjoyable time at the Trust, always satisfying to meet all the challenges thrown at me, I would not have it any other ways.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone of my colleagues as without them my time at the Trust would not have been the same.  This especially includes Pete Thompson, now retired, who always used to lighten the mood by playing pranks on us but which I eventually got back by adding to his CV the title of “Hampshire slug expert”.  He also found a tiny starving kitten in the woods which he brought back to me and has now been my feline friend for the past 11 years, although he thinks he is a dog.

Also I would like to thank all the Trust supporters I have dealt with throughout the years, they have always been most friendly and supportive making my job so much easier.

As I bid adieu to the Trust after 40 incredible years, I can't help but feel a twinge of nostalgia. But fear not, for the adventures continue. Who knows what the future holds? All I know is, I wouldn't have had it any other way.


Corinne Duggins

at 7:58 on 12/04/2024 by Francis Buner

You have been a wonderful colleague and compatriot throughout all those 20 years I have been with the Trust this year. Always reliable, logical as you say yourself, and ready for a good laugh even when things were a bit tough. What will remain are the shared memories and lifelong friendship. One of best memories for me is when you booked me into that hotel in Zeeland, which seemed a spitting image of the very ghostly one in the movie 'the Shining'. There was nobody there when we arrived and the place seemed completely abandoned. It was so spooky, that you booked in for a second occasion. Ha!

Thank you Corinne

at 18:52 on 11/04/2024 by David Gladwin

What a lot of water has gone under our various bridges Corinne. You were always there to give me help in my many and varied relationships with our revered and loved GWCT, for more years than I can recall. You were always charming, cheerful and "on the ball" and I miss contact with you most of all. I hope you have the long and happy new life you surely deserve. David Gladwin

Thank you.

at 9:28 on 10/04/2024 by James Singlehurst

We have all been very fortunate to have had you working tirelessly on our behalfs for over 40 years. Thank you Corinne, and I hope have a long and happy retirement.

Corrine Duggins

at 8:53 on 10/04/2024 by Hugh Oliver-Bellasis

Corrine's contribution to GWCT cannot be over estimated. She managed CGRP wonderfully well. Ever cheerful and always willing she is a real star. I wish her a happy retirement and hope our paths cross again, one day. Have a very Happy retirement and thank you so much for all you wonderful work. Hugh OB

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