One of the greatest men I know received a lifetime award last week, and I was privileged to present it to him. John Humphreys, who has written for Country Life for the past few years in his ‘The Countryman’ column and his wonderfully evocative descriptions of our wildlife, is a man I’m immensely proud to have as a friend.

I first met him when I became editor of Shooting Times more than a decade ago and his advice, passion and gentle steering were the greatest help to a naïve and rather impetuous young editor.

The son of the local vicar, John has packed more into his life than anyone else I know. He’s a man of enthusiasms, but shooting, fishing and the countryside are his greatest loves.

It was only fitting that the presentation was jointly made by John Swift, chief executive of the BASC, and Helen Phillips, chief executive of Natural England, who came under John’s spell when she visited his little wilderness at Hunter’s Fen and learnt more about shooting than she could possible have imagined. Sadly, John is suffering from cancer at present, but I know I speak on behalf of everyone who has ever met him or anyone who has read a single word of his shining prose in wishing him the very best.

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