A Northumberland gamekeeper has been hailed after clocking up half a century in the profession.
David Bertram, 65, is one of only a few people to receive a long-service award from the Country Land and Business Association for 50 years as a gamekeeper.
Mr Bertram was born and brought up on the Ford and Etal Estate near Wooler, where his dad Ernie was a shepherd to Lord Joicey.
He started lending a hand to a gamekeeper on the estate at the age of just 12.
By the age of 15, Mr Bertram was regularly helping to look after the estate’s gun dogs and took a full-time job as a gamekeeper at Ford and Etal just days after finishing school.
Mr Bertram said: “In the last six months before I left school, I was regularly playing truant to help out with shooting days on the estate and my parents were about the only people in our village not to know about it!”
After serving nine years at Ford and Etal, he moved to the 2,500-acre Fallodon Estate, at Embleton, near Alnwick.
Mr Bertram has worked there for the Bridgeman family for the last 41 years, living in a cottage on site.
In his role, Mr Bertram regularly works from 4am to 10.30pm and his working life is devoted to killing vermin and rearing pheasants for the estate’s shoots.
Fallodon estate owner Mark Bridgeman said: “David is a real countryman and is involved in every aspect of the estate.
“Not only does he run the shoot, but he is also knowledgeable about the woods, looks after our small flock of Welsh Black Sheep and is involved with the farm. As a young boy he used to take me shooting and now my children love going with him, be it after rabbits or duck.
“He is well-known in the local community and does a lot to help the police fight rural crime, in particular poaching. He knows every inch of the estate and always makes shoot days great fun for everyone involved.”
Mr Bertram said: “It has been a great life, open air, fresh air all the time, outdoors, maybe some bad weather, but you just put up with the bad weather.
“You meet all different kinds of people, all walks of life.
“You either love it or you hate it, and I love it.
“It is not hard work, it is long hours.
“I have been very fortunate to find a career that I love so much and have no intention of retiring any time soon.”
He is hoping to carry on working until he is 75.
Only six or seven gamekeepers a year receive long service awards – given to those who clock up four or five decades.
Mr Bertram was presented with his by CLA president Harry Cotterell, at the CLA Game Fair in Warwickshire.
Mr Cotterell said: “David has put decades of sterling service into the countryside and is a credit to his estate and local community for the role he plays in looking after this beautiful part of Northumberland.”