Introducing Mel Shand!
Mel is a Gamekeepers Wife, a talented Wildlife Artist and a Director of the River Dee Trust.
Growing up her father was a factor with the Highlands and Islands Development Board and her mum ran a country house hotel within the Cairngorms National Park. Mel’s own family numbers three sons, one of whom works within the rural sector as a Gamekeeper, following in his fathers footsteps and family roots. All the family fish and prior to becoming a gamekeeper her husband Hedge was a fishing ghillie so it’s no surprise that Mel became a Director of the River Dee Trust.
“As Trustees of the river we work hard to educate protect and conserve the riparian environment. I design and produce artwork for the River Dee Boards including their buffs, a whiskey label, a book of ghillies and their annual report. This year I provided some of the photography for the social media campaign for the Atlantic Salmon Trust’s missing salmon project. “
Mel is known for her numerous community projects, including forming a scrub hub and need a neighbour group during lockdown, her concerted efforts meant she was recently honoured with a BEM for services to the rural community and arts.
It’s safe to say this lady, is a pillar of not only her own community but also the wider rural community!
Mel also breeds gun dogs with her husband who is the head gamekeeper on local Finzean estate. “I really enjoy working with my pointer during the grouse counting season and make myself useful as a flanker space filler, piece maker and driver on shoot days, in fact many moons ago I passed an off road driving course, however these days I have a phd in gate opening….” jokes Mel.
When asked if Mel has any passions or interests she was quick to reply :
“My life! I appreciate what a privilege it is to live where and how we do!
I think we need to be mindful that not everyone fully understands our lifestyle. We don’t get away much because of the animals. It’s not all about killing either - although there’s no shirking the sex and death in the countryside. However I really believe we should eat what we shoot and go out of my way to introduce game to the uninitiated. If we can educate folk to the pleasures and the balance involved we have more chance of creating an understanding. We’ve done a lot of work promoting fishing to ladies and youngsters with the Deeside Damsels and the GCWT art competitions but mostly I think mostly woman are too busy promoting their partners behind the scenes to want to take a starring role! “