Borders College

Royal experience for Underkeeper Eddie

A promising former Gamekeeping student has begun a two year introductory role as a trainee Underkeeper at Sandringham Estate, the Norfolk retreat of Her Majesty The Queen.

Eddie Potts at Sandringham Estate

18 year old Eddie (Edward) Potts (pictured in front of the estate's wrought iron 'Norwich Gates'), originally from Glasgow, thrived on his Higher National Certificate (HNC) Gamekeeping with Wildlife Management course at Borders College – the same course his own brother completed a year prior. Eddie’s interest in gamekeeping began as a child when he got involved with beating as a hobby alongside his brother and father.

Participating in a week-long residential at Glenmoriston Estate in the Highlands as part of his HNC (carrying out tasks such as feeding the hill red deer, pheasant and partridges as well as preparing for stalking and shoot days), Eddie stood out as a motivated learner, receiving excellent work placement reports from Cameron Storie, Head Keeper at Balbirnie Estate in Cupar. Eddie proved he was willing to learn and develop, and credits his lecturers and the hands-on experience gained on placement for helping him to secure his current position.

Lecturer Garry Dickson describes Eddie as, “a very able young man with a bright future in gamekeeping.”

Eddie’s wealth of knowledge and understanding of gamekeeping – particularly in wild game habitat and deer management – enabled him to complete his qualification ahead of schedule so that he could take up the fantastic opportunity south of the border.

Kevan McCaig, Eddie’s supervisor and Head Keeper at Sandringham Estate, is also a former Borders College student, completing his gamekeeping studies there in the late 1980s. Kevan valued the opportunities his College education gave him to meet and share experiences with others working within a similar industry. From a family with a background of farm work, Kevan was the first to become a Gamekeeper, working in positions at both Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, and Holkham Hall and Estate in Norfolk prior to his recent move to Sandringham Estate.

Sandringham Estate previously employed trainee staff from one college locally (Sparsholt College, Hampshire), but Kevan has encouraged them to broaden the net in order to benefit from the myriad of skills a wider range of potential candidates could bring from their differing educations.

This inclusive approach opened up the position to Eddie, for which Kevan says he stood out as the preferred candidate:

“Eddie knew a lot about the trees on the estate and was able to demonstrate a solid foundation of knowledge, his College and placement experiences have also helped him to achieve this position.”

Eddie is living on the estate in ‘The Pheasantries’ house shared accommodation with two other trainee Underkeepers, one of whom is also new to their role. As well as working with one of the Beat Keepers, Eddie spends time each week with Kennelman Alan Goodship, who supervises Eddie’s work at the dog kennels where duties include feeding and exercising Her Majesty The Queen’s dogs. Eddie is charged with covering Alan’s holidays, when he takes full responsibility for the kennels.

Kevan says of Eddie’s work so far:

“He’s been a good lad and is getting on well, especially in the dog kennels. He’s listened and has been doing everything he’s been asked.”

Upon completion of his 2 years as trainee Underkeeper, Eddie will likely move on to build his skills and experience on another estate, with Kevan adding that there is every chance he could secure a more senior role with an employer like Sandringham Estate in the future.

If Eddie successfully completes his two year contract at Sandringham, which he is fully expected to, this could also pave the way for other Borders College students to work for the estate and gain valuable industry experience.

Published: Thu 15th Nov, 2018