Fishing & Shooting: The Sandpiper Challenge

To the Sandpiper Challenge at Dunecht in leafy Aberdeenshire, at which we were expected to catch a fish, hit a golf ball and shoot a clay pigeon, accompanied by lashings of food and alcohol.

The Sandpiper Trust was started by Claire Maitland in memory of her nephew who drowned in Canada. The trust raises money to equip rural doctors and district nurses with bags full of first-aid supplies specified by Basics – The British Association for Immediate Care, Scotland.

Sandpiper bag holders all over Scotland are now being equipped with locator beacons so the ambulance service knows who is closest to a crash or drama in the hills.

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Considering most of those who shoot or fish do so in moderately remote areas and golfers are always keeling over on the fairway, supporting Sandpiper sort of makes sense.

At Dunecht, the third Sandpiper Challenge raised 160,000. Some 20 teams of five paid to compete at clays, golf and fishing and for dinner in the shadow of Dunecht House, set in grounds with its own nine-hole golf course, lake and ad hoc shooting ground.

Mercifully my team captain John Drysdale sent me off to fish while he and the other three who made up Drysdale's Dominators or some similarly silly name, played golf.

Orvis produced trout rods and flies and the fishermen floated about in cloudy sun and a warm breeze trying to catch the stocked brown trout. George Forbes Leith from Fyvie caught seven, but then he was born in a grouse butt with a fishing rod between his teeth.

There was a committee panic about a shortage of beer at lunchtime, but no-one noticed. In the afternoon Drysdale led us to the clays with the grander competitors lightly quipping that all this "walked up" stuff – birds flying away as if flushed – was rather beneath them. Sure enough, few had any trouble with the "driven pheasants", clay pigeons coming overhead, but struggled horribly with the "walked up" targets – notably the "woodcock" clay, which consistently dived straight into the ground behind a birch tree.

For waiting shooters Dr Colville Laird of Basics demonstrated the latest in training technology – lifelike computerised dummies with variable heartbeats. One of the dummies was made in France. "Does it take a suppository?" asked our resident wag.

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The team captain lent me his son's Beretta Silver Pigeon under-and-over 20 bore which was like shooting with a magic wand. "Would you like to buy it?" he kept asking. Dinner was sublime; scallops and roast beef.

Our friend Virginia bought a Helen Denerley horse sculpture at the auction and danced around it on a table. "It's just like my old horse," she blubbed. I stood aside for the 10,000 a week villa in Barbados but bid in the silent auction for a day's fishing on the Don with champagne. And won. Oops.

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• This article was first published in The Scotsman on 19 June.