JACK DEPLEDGE has been named best student for 2017 by the National Gamekeepers' Organisation, which represents gamekeepers in England and Wales.

Jack, who is 18, took his Extended Diploma Game and Countryside Management course at Askham Bryan College's Penrith centre, Newton Rigg. It is the third time in six years a student from the college has taken a national gamekeeping award.

Newton Rigg course manager Curtis Mossop said: “Jack has a maturity well beyond his years, and is superb academically and practically. He takes pride in what he does, is trustworthy, dependable and eloquent in explaining to the public the benefits of gamekeeping. I would describe him as a model pupil and am proud that his hard work and dedication have led to this significant award.”

Following the award, Jack, whose family home is in Settle, North Yorkshire, said: “I am not from a keepering family but started beating at about five years old when my Dad joined a small syndicate and led to me becoming a regular beater. I'd always wanted to go to Newton Rigg where the mix of classroom-based study and outdoor experience are perfect, the lecturers are fab and the facilities for gaining an insight into grouse, deer, pheasant and partridge are second to none.”

NGO chairman Liam Bell added: “It is wonderfully reassuring to see that new entrants to our profession are of such a high calibre. It is quite clear that Jack is a special talent, with a great love and aptitude for the job. As such he is a very worthy winner.”

Newton Rigg College has been delivering specialist gamekeeping courses for more than two decades, attracting students from across the UK and beyond, to benefit from its range of resources, including a grouse moor, Purdey award-winning driven partridge shoot, and deer management forest, as well as rearing and larder facilities and gundog kennels.

In addition to the trophy, Jack also received a Musto Highland Gore-Tex suit of jacket and trousers, which are already coming in useful as he has begun work as a trainee keeper on the Glenogil Estate in Perthshire.