Me&MyJob: Preserving the great outdoors
Albert Titterington, Director, The great Game Fairs of Ireland
What does your job entail?
I run three major shows under the broad banner of The Great Game Fairs of Ireland — The Irish Game and Country Living Fair at Ballywalter Park which took place in April and May 1, the Irish Game Fair at Shane’s Castle in Antrim which runs tomorrow and Saturday, and the Irish Game & Country Fair at Birr Castle in County Offaly over August 27 and 28.
By anyone’s standards that’s a lot of organisation, especially as almost everything to do with those fairs will, at some stage, pass across my desk. I am really fortunate that I have a fabulous team, but I do tend to be very hands-on – in the case of country fairs, that also means ‘wellies-on’, for you’ll never run a successful event sitting behind a desk.
In addition to my involvement in the fairs, I own and manage the specialist Country Sports & Lifestyle magazine and the portal www.countrysportsandlifestyle.|com.
Is it nine to five?
How did you get into this line of work?
When I left university the ‘big plan’ was to launch a business which reflected my personal interests in country pursuits and rural heritage, but I was eager to stretch myself academically before concentrating on what I assumed would become my ‘day job’. I started teaching at Queen’s planning to stay for two years while I got my own business up and running, but I ended up staying there as a senior lecturer for 22 years. During that time, however, I launched my exhibition and publishing business and, with the help of my wife, Irene, grew it year on year.
Tell us about your qualifications/training.
I first took my BSc in Natural Science at Liverpool, followed by Diplomas in Management Studies and Marketing and did my MBA at Queen’s here in Belfast.
What qualities are required for your job — personal and professional?
You have to be genuinely interested and knowledgeable about the sector, for you are dealing with people who have devoted their lives to country sports and lifestyles. You certainly won’t bluff them.
You have to be hard-working and ready to muck in, tackling whatever is needed to get the show on the road and, as in every sphere of life, a sense of humour keeps the wheels oiled.
My academic training in marketing and business strategy has, of course, been a great help to me in my current role but those years balancing lecturing, business building and also domestic and international consultancy work showed me the benefit of time-management and the development of good planning and problem solving skills.
I am a devotee of the Irish countryside, country life and country pursuits and have always wanted to build a business around those interests.
My original interest goes back to my childhood when an uncle who was a respected dog breeder took me under his wing and gave me my first Pembroke Welsh Corgi. At age 11, I bred my first litter of pups and started on what proved to be a very successful showing career of my own. That interest in dogs has deepened and broadened over the years as I started to train working and gun dogs.
The interest in dogs plus an early exposure to target shooting led to an interest in field sports and, well, it all grew and expanded.
Today I am passionate about conserving, promoting and developing our beautiful countryside and the rural way of life and country sports are very much part of that ‘package’.
I’m on a mission to keep our rural traditions alive and to encourage many more people to enjoy them. These traditions are not only worth preserving because they are such an important part of our heritage, they are also instructive, life-enhancing, and hugely enjoyable.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
I was once injured in a road accident and was ‘advised’ to buy and train a gundog as an aid to recovery. I purchased a supposedly part-trained Golden Retriever dog by the name of Goldtrieve Scooby Doo. His dizzy name reflected his personality, as he was an inveterate retriever but sometimes with a mind of his own. He was fearless and a great companion but maybe lacked the steadiness needed for working tests or trials. Training him took my mind off my injuries and ensured that I got plenty of exercise. I have to admit he frustrated the life out of me sometimes but I cannot recall any occasion when he failed to retrieve a wounded or dead bird in often difficult conditions.His memory lives on through just one litter of pups he sired when he was 10 years of age.
What do like to do in your spare time?
Hardly surprising, but I love all country sports and I am having particular pleasure introducing my grandchildren to them. I am also an avid collector of antiquarian books and art related to the subject. Despite the fact that I do a great deal of writing as part of my work, I still manage to enjoy writing in a recreational sense and I am a keen photographer.
I am involved in conservation work – moor land management, the re-introduction and preservation of game bird species and the preservation of salmon stocks.