A SURVEY of gamekeepers, stalkers and ghillies has revealed the hard realities of work in the game sector.

Conducted by the Gamekeeper’s Welfare Trust, the survey found that 90% of respondents worked over 50 hours a week, well over the national average for full-time workers of around 37 hours a week.

While most full-time workers in the UK are entitled to 28 days’ holiday a year, 50% of GWT’s respondents said that they took less than 15 days, and 25% hadn’t had a holiday or short break in over a year.

The survey results suggested that gamekeeper' long working hours meant that time away from the estate/shoot for other pastimes was limited. Over half of respondents said they needed around eight hours sleep to be well-rested – but only 10% of respondents managed that. Unsurprisingly, a third or more were interested in finding out how to strike a better work/life balance, how to manage stress, and how to stop worrying about work.

Retirement was the top topic of interest for respondents, with 54% of them keen to explore planning for retirement and over a third planning for housing in retirement, not least because 68% of respondents live in tied housing, which isn’t unusual in the sector. Over half of respondents said they weren’t in a position to buy, or had no plans in place.

GWT’s Helen Benson said: "2020/21 is our Year of the Gamekeeper Campaign, raising the profile and celebrating the custodians of our countryside. We know gamekeepers are vital to a healthy and vibrant countryside, we should value their role in their communities and as the professional and dedicated individuals they are. It is incumbent on us to act on these important results, and we in GWT pledge to do so on behalf of gamekeepers and their families everyone.”