John Fletcher is a leading specialist in the management of deer, as well as the diagnosis, treatment and control of deer diseases. I have played a crucial role in the development of deer farming in the United Kingdom and Europe, liaising with the British Government.
I have contributed papers to a wide variety of learned and popular journals and am frequently called upon to act as an expert witness in litigation. I have written several highly acclaimed books about my own life and about deer and their role in human history and I have also participated in over one hundred radio and television broadcasts.
I have contributed many chapters in books in as diverse subjects as deer management and handling, game meat hygiene, the history of Chillingham cattle, the evolution of domesticated animals, and the impact of hunting on European woodlands from medieval to modern.
I am very proud to be the first man in Scotland to have donated a kidney to a stranger and this too has attracted media attention. By raising awareness that this procedure is possible for most of us I hope to help Scotland become the first country in the world where no one need die waiting for a kidney – at the moment more than one person a day is dying while waiting.
I graduated from Glasgow university veterinary school and subsequently received a PhD from Cambridge university for work carried out on the Isle of Rum on wild and tame red deer.
In my book, A Life for Deer, I described the trials and tribulations of establishing the first commercial deer farm in Europe at Reediehill in Auchtermuchty. This was done in the absence of any agricultural support at a time when other livestock farming was heavily subsidised. This was only possible with the support of my jeweller and food writer wife, Nichola, who developed a successful venison enterprise which eventually we were able to sell. We were also responsible for the establishment of the Scottish Deer Centre, a retail and tourism venture near Cupar in Fife.
I worked for several years locating, buying and exporting deer from Europe to New Zealand on behalf of Dalgety, and from Reediehill we have exported red deer breeding stock to USA, Canada, the Far East, New Zealand and almost all countries in Europe. In 1990 Reediehill was awarded the Queen’s Award for Export following the establishment of deer farms in Japan. Among many private and commercial landowners around the world, clients have included the Britsh Royal Parks and Crown Estates, the Duke and Duchess of Argyll and the President of the United Arab Emirates.
I am very proud to have been elected an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and also a fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society.
I was instrumental in setting up the Federation of European Deer Farmers’ Associations and became its chairman; I was also the founder president of the Veterinary Deer Society and the founder vice chairman of the British Deer Farmers’ Association becoming its chairman for several terms. I have been a trustee of the Chillingham Wild Cattle Association (https://chillinghamwildcattle.com/) from 2001 to 2019 and conducted a programme to harvest embryos from Chillingham cattle for which I was awarded the Marsh Award for Conservation in Genetic Biodiversity through the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. I contributed a chapter to the book ‘Chillingham – its cattle, castle and church’ edited by Paul Bahn and Vera Mutimer with a foreword by HRH the Prince of Wales.
I am a trustee of the extraordinary and world renowned Sharmanka kinetic theatre company in Glasgow (www.sharmanka.com) created by the Russian sculptor Edouard Bersudsky.
I was a friend of the sculptor and furniture maker, the late Tim Stead, and have many of his pieces including the first chair he ever sold. I also contributed a chapter to the book ‘With the Grain – an appreciation of Tim Stead’ edited by Giles Sutherland and with a foreword by HRH the Prince of Wales.
I lecture annually to the Royal Veterinary College MSc course on Wild Animal Health at Woburn and have lectured in Canada, USA, New Zealand, Australia and throughout Europe.
I was active as a vet during the 2000 Foot and Mouth disease outbreak in southern Scotland and northern England and described this in my book, Fletcher’s Game, a later edition of A Life for Deer.
We live intimately with deer and one day Tilly Smith brought some of her Cairngorm reindeer herd to join us at a dinner party
Altruistic Kidney Donation
In March 2009 I became the first man in Scotland to take advantage of the new Human Tissue Act when I donated a kidney to a stranger. I am a trustee of the Give a Kidney charity
(www.giveakidney.org) whose objective is to raise awareness that it is feasible for most of us to give a kidney and contribute to saving a life. We believe that if everyone was aware of this possibility then enough people are sufficiently generous that we could prevent anyone dying waiting for a kidney – at the moment someone dies daily waiting for a kidney.
Finally a vital part of my life has been our French holiday tower (www.frenchholidaytower.com) which we bought about twenty years ago and let on a weekly basis. And when it is not let we can go and hole up there and try to write another book.
Contact John directly via firstname.lastname@example.org
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Video Credit: Bud and Linda Graske