Howard Kirby brought Lains Shooting School from Quarley to the Houses of Parliament for the finals of the Countryside Alliance Awards.
Four local businesses, of which Lains is one, are celebrating winning South of England regional titles in the Countryside Alliance Awards and came to Parliament for a national title against winners from the rest of Britain.
The Countryside Alliance Awards celebrate the skills, produce, traditions and enterprise of the countryside through the characters who work so hard to make it tick. The Awards are run across 12 UK regions, with each region’s winners then going forward to the national finals, held at the House of Lords.
This is the commendation Lains received which helped them into the finals
“Howard Kirby is dedicated to offering safe, knowledgeable and professional guidance on shooting and gun dog handling. Howard has ambitious plans to expand the shooting school and further develop the education side of the business. This will allow Lains to strive forward in passing on the traditional values, skills and knowledge to the next generation of shooters and gundog handlers.”
With Howard Kirby were his mother Jenny Harrison and his step-father Graham Browning; Annie Buckley who runs the dog training and Alex Hough and Nettie Kirby who run the office.
The Traditional Business Award went to the Wellington Carriage Company, and Lains Shooting School was Highly Commended.
"This was an excellent result for Howard and his team."
The citation received from the Countryside Alliance said "Lains is dedicated to offering knowledgeable and professional guidance on shooting and gun dog handling. Owner Howard Kirby has ambitious plans to expand the shooting school and further develop the education side of the business. Lains is at the forefront inpassing on the traditional values skills and knowledge of shooting to the next generation."
Howard Kirby, of Lains Shooting School and Mullenscote Gun Dogs, based at Quarley, near Andover, said he was amazed when he heard not only that he had been entered in the awards run by the Countryside Alliance but also that his had been judged best traditional business in Southern England.
Customers of the two businesses had proposed the entry, based on the community projects that have been launched at Lains and Mullenscote, including the Young Guns scheme for teaching young people how to handle and use firearms safely, ladies’ days, activity days, and the doggy ASBO courses introduced last year and intended to help owners of older dogs that have behavioural problems.
“We have worked closely with the local community following the tremendous support we received when we applied for new planning permission,” explained Howard.
“After this was granted, I spent about £40,000 upgrading our facilities and this has proved to be a good move. When times are tough, people spend what money they have on the best quality shooting and dog training centres and I had these in place so business is still healthy.
“Some of our activities, such as the doggy ASBO courses and several of our ladies’ shooting days, have been run in conjunction with the Andover Advertiser. The dog training courses especially were a great success and drew a far greater response than I could ever have imagined. We will be doing something similar again this summer.
“I have also revised the programme for our charity shoot days to maximise the earning potential for the charities that benefit and the first of these raised more than £4,000 for the organisers in half a day. The cash will assist Monxton Midsummer Flower Festival and St. Mary’s Church at Monxton. The Festival will also help the church as well as the Kingfisher Ward of Andover War Memorial Hospital.
“It was great to take some of the team from here up to the Houses of Parliament to meet various dignitaries and particularly our own MP, Sir George Young.
“I would like to thank all those who put us forward. I really appreciate their support and we’ll show this by continuing to offer them the best service and facilities we can.”
Sir George Young said it was great to see a local rural business doing so well and especially that it had won its awards because it is so well liked by the customers it serves.
“I have visited Howards Shooting School, and many of my constituents are regulars there. I have also read about Lains and Mullenscote Gun Dogs in the press and parish magazines and have long recognised what a significant contribution the business makes to the local community, both as an employer and provider of a well regarded sporting and training venue.
“When a business tries so hard to serve its customers and reaches out to the community so successfully, it’s wonderful to see the customers respond by suggesting public recognition from the Countryside Alliance. I’m sure the awards are very well deserved.”