What a year we had!!
Being a business that started during a global pandemic, it has been a bit of a ride so far and our first full year was hit intermittently with covid lockdowns, social distancing and zoom quizzes!! But we packed in one hell of an events calendar, built an incredible network of women and had a really good time throughout, and we still are!!
With 2022 being our second full year in business – and with the beginning of the year still feeling quite uncertain of which direction the pandemic would go (will we be hit with another lockdown? Will restrictions be lifted?), we remained positive that this year would be even bigger and better than our first year in business.
And girl, it was!
Throughout 2022, we had over 2,000 ladies join us on our Country Girl UK events, 200 of which picked up a gun for the very first time! From all of our shooting events to our country pursuits, that’s a lot of ladies getting involved in country and fieldsports, learning something different and meeting new, like-minded friends.
Our passion for introducing women to shooting continues to grow, and in 2022 we had over 800 ladies gain expert tuition with professional shooting instructors on our tuition events, all of which were held at our spectacular venues right across the UK. We aim to provide the opportunity for women to learn to shoot safely and comfortably, with the correct guidance at all times, and our tuition events do just that.
Although our core events will always be shooting based, in 2022 we branched out into several different “Country Pursuit” events. We delved into the world of fishing, falconry, polo and gundog training – something we will be bringing more of to our members in 2023. Giving our ladies the opportunity to get stuck into something completely different while being provided with the tools to do it right.
For some, knowing where to start can be complicated. If you don’t have a history in country sports, or even know of anybody that is involved. Taking the first step can feel like walking in the dark. Our community has given ladies the opportunity to try something they may have always wanted to do but just didn’t know how to get involved or where to start.
With our Game season and hunting events, we have had ladies hit many “firsts” – from shooting Fallow Deer, Roe Deer, Pheasants, Partridge, Geese, Duck, Woodcock, Pigeons and Snipe, to catching their first ever Salmon or Trout. That’s 12 different species caught/shot at our events as ‘firsts’. All of which were held at reputable estates, grounds and shoots, with expert guidance and support along the way. Some of our ladies were even lucky enough to have an unplanned butchery class whilst on a long weekend shooting in Scotland.
We love absolutely nothing more than seeing all of our members, friends, followers and supporters face to face, the perfect opportunity for this is attending as many country shows and game fairs as possible. We have so much fun and love connecting with people at these events, and so in 2022, we packed in as many shows as we could! You may have seen us at The Northern Shooting Show, The Stalking Show, The Scottish Game Fair, The Game Fair at Ragley Hall, The Yorkshire Show and Moy Country Fair, and for those of you that did come to see us, it was an absolute pleasure to see you! We made some fantastic contacts, chatted to lots of ladies who were keen to get involved and welcomed lots of new members to the CGUK family.
If you did see us at the 2021 Game Fair at Ragley Hall, you will remember that our stand just couldn’t hold the number of people that came to visit us, so for our second year, we doubled in size…and we still overflowed out of the parameters!! With a daily raffle, drinks, catch-ups and with the infamous “bell” for new members, show season for us was a massive success and we look forward to seeing more new faces at these events throughout 2023.
When it comes to being a member of The Country Girls UK, the benefits continued to grow. We introduced 6 new luxurious brands to our British Marketplace, bringing exclusive discounts to our members on even more British products. With brands now including Hiho Silver Jewellery, Hicks and Hides accessories, Ballybar Ireland clothing and dog accessory brands such as Field and Fireside and PawsBrooklyn. We have a huge range of products for our members to get their hands on. Our long-standing brands such as Ardmoor, The Oxton Liqueur Company, Macwet gloves and Wild and Game plus many more, continue to offer benefits to our members, and we are thrilled to be partnered with such amazing British brands.
Our members continue to have access to incredible educational content from industry professionals and in 2022, after listening to what our members wanted, we added even more bespoke content on a regular basis. To go alongside our Coach’s Corner where our members have monthly tips and advice from our resident shooting coach Nicki Wakeford (former Olympic Skeet GB Ladies Team member and GB’s talent Pathway shooting coach), we have now teamed up with fishing expert Marina Gibson to bring them our Fishing Corner and chef Esther Veerman who heads up our Cookery Corner. Along with ad-hoc masterclasses on a range of subjects, our members have consistently benefited from up-to-date subjects in the form of masterclasses and blogs from a whole host of professionals, including BASC.
In 2022, we also introduced our loyalty card scheme and referral codes for our members, meaning our members are rewarded for attending events and for recommending us to their friends!
And finally, to end the year on a high, we held our FIRST-EVER Christmas Ball in December! Taking part at the absolutely amazing Rushton Hall in Northamptonshire, we had ladies travelling from far and wide, some who had never even met any of our ladies before, yet still, they joined us for a fantastic night of delicious food, endless drinks and dancing until our feet couldn’t cope any more. The event was covered and featured by Femme magazine, where you may have seen a stunning 4-page feature on the run-up to the event, and where you will see a follow-up feature in their spring issue, including plenty of photos and quotes from some of our ladies that attended.
We couldn’t be prouder of the community we have built so far. Every single lady that has joined us at an event has been welcomed with open arms, whether they are a regular or a complete beginner. Ladies taking that leap to come alone, have gone on to comment that they felt instantly welcome and have since become regulars themselves.
Our members truly are spectacular, and it is because of them that we continue to grow. Each year so far has been better than the year before, and 2023 is set to be just that.
We have our 2023 events launching on the 1st of February to our members, which will see some amazing tuition days, simulated game days and country pursuit events across the country. Very shortly we will be introducing a whole new side to The CGUK team with a brand new “corner” being introduced very very soon. Watch this space!
They say start as you mean to go on… and that we will.
Here’s to a successful 2023. We would love for you to join us on this journey!