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East Anglia Future 50

Colchester landowner Jonathan Minter celebrates GWCT conservation accolade as farm's grey partridge numbers soar

PUBLISHED: 08:18 11 September 2017 | UPDATED: 08:18 11 September 2017

GWCT grey partridge awards event at IxworthThorpe: left and right, finalists Jonathan Minter and Robert Graves of Rivers Hall Estate, Boxted, near Colchester, and Adam Steed of Red House Farm shoot at Bacton, with event host Chris Wilson of Frederick Hiam Farms Ltd. Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

GWCT grey partridge awards event at IxworthThorpe: left and right, finalists Jonathan Minter and Robert Graves of Rivers Hall Estate, Boxted, near Colchester, and Adam Steed of Red House Farm shoot at Bacton, with event host Chris Wilson of Frederick Hiam Farms Ltd. Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

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A conservation-minded landowner has scooped a coveted regional award for his efforts to revive grey partridge populations on his farm.

GWCT grey partridge awards event at IxworthThorpe: left and right, Jonathan Minter and Robert Graves of Rivers Hall Estate, Boxted, near Colchester, and centre, Hugo Johnsen, director of sponsors Castleacre Insurance Services Ltd. Picture: SARAH CHAMBERSGWCT grey partridge awards event at IxworthThorpe: left and right, Jonathan Minter and Robert Graves of Rivers Hall Estate, Boxted, near Colchester, and centre, Hugo Johnsen, director of sponsors Castleacre Insurance Services Ltd. Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

Jonathan Minter of Rivers Hall Estate, Boxted, near Colchester, along with his gamekeeper, Robert Graves, were delighted after lifting the East Anglian Partridge trophy as the award celebrated its tenth year.

“We started seven years ago and we both share a passion for the grey partridge,” he explained.

Having visited a friend’s farm where work was being done to help them, they decided they must adopt measures on their 1100 acre, mainly arable operation, where they grow barley, wheat, sugar beet, onions, potatoes and also grow cricket bat willows. Bird numbers now stand at around 150 to 180.

“We have seen steadily growing numbers through Robert’s hard work,” he said. They were “absolutely over the moon” to have been selected as finalists, he added. “It’s one third commitment, one third hard work and one third luck.”

GWCT grey partridge awards event at IxworthThorpe: finalists Jonathan Minter and Robert Graves of Rivers Hall Estate, Boxted, near Colchester, and Adam Steed of Red House Farm shoot at Bacton. Picture: SARAH CHAMBERSGWCT grey partridge awards event at IxworthThorpe: finalists Jonathan Minter and Robert Graves of Rivers Hall Estate, Boxted, near Colchester, and Adam Steed of Red House Farm shoot at Bacton. Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

Runner-up was fellow finalist Adam Steed, who runs a shoot at Red House Farms, Bacton, which is owned by David Black & Son, and managed on the arable side by his father, Roger Steed. Adam runs the shoot in his spare time, while working as a PE teacher, and had helped implement a number of conservation measures to boost partridge populations on the farm.

The award event, organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and supported by sponsors Castleacre Insurance Services Ltd, was hosted by last year’s winner, Chris Wilson, owner of Frederick Hiam Farms Ltd. He and head gamekeeper, Richard Gould, showed visitors around Manor Farm, Ixworth Thorpe, near Bury St Edmunds, where conservation efforts have helped not only grey partridge populations, but also other species.

They explained how they had integrated the farming, game and wildlife conservation on the estate, while Roger Draycott, head of GWCT Advisory, updated guests on the latest GWCT partridge research and advisory issues.

He was able to tell them that grey populations looked to be on the up once again, after some setbacks in recent years.

GWCT grey partridge awards event at IxworthThorpe: finalist Adam Steed of Red House Farm shoot at Bacton. Picture: SARAH CHAMBERSGWCT grey partridge awards event at IxworthThorpe: finalist Adam Steed of Red House Farm shoot at Bacton. Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

Both of the finalists would have been “very, very deserved winners”, he said.

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