|The Strangford Lough
Wildfowlers & Conservation
Association Celebrate their 50th Anniversary
|A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PAST 50 years
By Dennis Stephenson, Hon Publicity Officer
The Strangford Lough Wildfowlers and Conservation Association was
formed some 50 years ago by a group of local wildfowlers who believed
that the type of legislation being enacted at that time was of very
little value to wildlife and, at the same time, was detrimental
to the sport of wildfowling. The Wild Bird Protection Act (N.I.)
1950 resulted in some of the harshest restrictions for sportsmen
anywhere in Europe.
Fifty years later, it is interesting to reflect how the SLW&CA
has developed, from merely shooting wildfowl to becoming a leading
organisation for the conservation of quarry species, the protection
of important habitats, the education of its members and providing
a strong lobby at Local Government level.
The Association now controls two conservation areas in the Newtownards
area, one at Glenvale, Crawfordsburn Road, and the other at Kiltonga
on the Main Newtownards to Belfast Road.
|Albert Titterington presents
the Countrysports and
Country Life conservation
award to club Conservation
Officer Stephen Mc Murray.
|An educational centre has been incorporated into the
Glenvale area, and this now extensively used by schools and other
educational groups. The Association carries out a yearly programme
of rearing and releasing wildfowl most likely to adapt to the locality
and provide a breeding stock.
The SLW&CA has over the years put on exhibitions locally, depicting
the history of country sports, shooting and wildfowling in particular,
in an attempt to enlighten an increasingly urban population.
The first such show in the Town Hall, Newtownards, was in 1956 and
was called 'Natural History and the Shooting Man.' The Association
is convinced that good public relations has a very significant role
in whatever is done to protect and improve the lot of wildfowlers.
The year 1963 saw the successful conclusion to negotiations for
the lease of Glenvale Hall from the owners and this provided the
wildfowlers with their headquarters beside the main conservation
The Strangford Lough Wildlife Scheme came into being in 1966 and
resulted in a successful partnership between the National Trust
and local wildfowlers through a Joint Council bound by a covenant.
The Strangford Lough Wildfowlers' Association had almost completed
negotiations with the Mount Stewart estate for the shooting rights
over much of their North foreshore of Strangford Lough, but gave
up their claim in the interests of an overall scheme.
Years of dedicated conservation work finally resulted in the Association
winning the Stanley Duncan Trophy awarded by the Wildfowler Association
of Great Britain & Ireland (now B.A.S.C.) on three separate
occasions for the most successful club in the British Isles.
The Ards Borough Council and the SLW&CA work together to manage
the Kiltonga Reserve where members of the public and wild birds
happily co-exist, and fight the dead hand of potential developers.
The Millennium Year saw one of our members, Ian McMurray, win an
award for his conservation work, against strong competition. The
Rotary Club of Newtownards and Ards Borough Council set up this
It is not all conservation, of course. The members enjoy rough shooting,
game shooting, clay pigeon and air rifle target shooting.The upper
dam at Glenvale has been stocked with Rainbow and Brown trout for
the benefit of the angling section. The members also train their
dogs on summer evenings in preparation for the oncoming shooting
The Game & Country Fairs in the province are fully supported
by the Association to the mutual benefit of both.Vermin control
is also carried out by Association members in co-operation with
estates and farmers to ensure a proper balance is maintained to
the benefit of everyone who enjoys the countryside, whether for
sport or livelihood.
There have been many contributions over the years to the success
of the Strangford Lough Wildfowlers Association and to attempt to
name them all would be well nigh impossible. But if ever the definitive
history of our Association is written, one small man with a big
heart and an even bigger intellect will stand as the one persons
who in his capacity as honorary secretary for an unbroken 38 years
made the Association the success it is today. I personally count
it an immense privilege and honour to have served with one Tommy
Wightman. A true sporting gentleman if ever there was one. D.S.
|The Celebration Dinner
The Club celebrated the anniversary in fine style with a dinner
and dance at the Clandeboye Lodge Hotel. Guests of Honour included
the Mayor, Margaret Craig, Alderman Jim Shannon, MLA and his wife;
Ronan Gorman BASC NI and his wife; Mrs Eveleigh Brownlow (widow
of the late Major William Brownlow); Tony Jackson (ex Editor of
the Shooting Times) Michael Dickey (Game Fair founder) and Albert
and Irene Titterington.
The Mayor outlined the contribution that SLW& CA had made to
the local community through their conservation work in the local
area most notably through the very important visitor and education
attraction at Kiltonga. She wished them well for the next 50 years.
The Chairman Jack Gilliland, then presented a special award, a beautifully
engraved piece of crystal, to Albert Titterington to mark his association
with SLW&CA over the 24 years that he and they had been associated
with the Fair.
|Tony Jackson and Jack Gilliland
toast the success of the auction.
|Albert accepting the award on behalf of all those
who had contributed to the success of the Fair over the years including
his wife Irene, his co Founders the late William Brownlow; Stanley
Scott and his close colleague Michael Dickey ; his recent co Director
John Beach and all the clubs and associations including Strangford
who put so much effort in over the years.
He reflected that his first contact with the association had been
when as a schoolboy he visited their exhibit in Ards Town Hall and
was shown round by none other that RW(Bob) Milliken.
He congratulated SLW&CA in reaching this important milestone
in their history and expressed great pleasure at , in turn, presenting
Stephen Mc Murray with the Captain James Hamilton Memorial award
for Conservation in recognition of the clubs magnificent conservation
After two congratulatory speeches by Alderman Shannon and Ronan
Gorman , director of BASC, Tony Jackson took the floor to conduct
the auction of field sports items.
Reflecting on his association with the club and the Game Fair he
told the very amusing story of his main recollection of the first
Game Fair when the toilet blocks promised by the army failed to
arrive the night before the Fair and Albert Titterington and Michael
Dickey after scouring the country for female loos , set too after
midnight with a JCB to dig the most memorable , if not most sanitary,
earthworks for the male latrines. He reflected that Shooting Times
could well have lost an editor to these gaping trenches.
After a superb meal, the presentations and speeches members and
guests enjoyed themselves dancing until the "wee small hours".
|Personal Editors Note
It gave me great pleasure to attend the SLW&CA celebratory dinner
even though it meant that Michael Dickey and I had to drive through
the night to get to the Scottish Game Fair the following day. I
am extremely grateful to the club for their presentation but as
I said and have always said the success of the Game Fair was and
is a team effort with many individuals and indeed clubs such as
SLW&CA making truly invaluable contributions. It was good to
meet so many old friends including Tony Jackson and it was a great
pity that club stalwart Tommy Wightman, whom I worked with for many
years, could not be there.
SLW&CA have been part of the Game Fair since its existence and
have made a massive contribution to it over the years including
working alongside us to get permission for the first major air rifle
range at any event in the province.
|Tony Jackson shares a joke
with Albert Titterington and Michael Dickey.
|As I said my first contact with Strangford goes back
over 40 years to when I as a boy at School took the afternoon off
to visit their display in Ards Town Hall and met RW Milliken for
the first time. As someone who from an early age always had a keen
interest, indeed fascination with guns and shooting - my father
was an armourer, and someone who went on to train as a biologist
, the display and Bob's shooting/conservation interests cemented
my belief that the two interests could and should be combined.
It is my genuine belief that it is clubs such as Strangford and
the people who manage them, who do make the largest contribution
to conservation in the countryside- they are the true environmentalists.
Albert J Titterington
|This is the first of our club reports - if your
club has a special anniversary or special event coming up please
do contact us to have it featured in our events diary and possibly
in a feature in the magazine and/or Web Portal.