TEENAGE shooter Arthur Smith served up lunch for a group of residents from Wroughton yesterday with a pheasant he put down with his own trigger finger on a hunt with his father.
The 14-year-old Year 10 pupil at The Ridgeway School has been taught how to shoot and hunt by his father since the age of 10. His mentor grew up on a farm himself and is an experienced shooter.
Arthur, who lives near Redlands Airfield with his family, pitched the idea of killing and cooking a pheasant to his catering teacher Rosemary Cairns last year.
He was given the thumbs up and in the week after Christmas he went out with his father and brought home two pheasants, which were then prepared and cooked by Rosemary and her GCSE caterers.
Yesterday, residents from the village were invited into the school, as they are every month, for a lunchtime meal prepared by the pupils.
“Last year I was doing some cooking in class and I asked Miss if she wanted any pheasants bringing in,” said Arthur. “I got these two a couple of Saturdays ago.
“Miss then gutted and plucked them in front of the class, which I’m perfectly fine about, but some of my classmates found it a bit gory.”
The meal was organised as part of a wider initiative at the school to encourage pupils to consider where the food they eat comes from.
In this particular case Rosemary was keen to highlight the pheasant’s journey from field to fork.
“We have been looking at a research project, which is looking at healthy schools,” said Rosemary.
“We are looking at the nutritional needs of the older person and through meals like this the school and local residents can help each other.
“I haven’t prepared a pheasant in catering class for the past five or six years.
“There is a lot of interest around this area in knowing where our food comes from.
“Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has done programmes on the rearing of animals and growth of vegetables before cooking them, which just shows the focus on where our food comes from.”
Residents enjoy the dish created by pupils at The Ridgeway School yesterday
Twenty diners were catered for in the school hall, with many of them frequent responders to the school’s monthly invitation to a meal prepared by the pupil caterers.
One such diner was Gillian Hand, 74, of Priors Hill, Wroughton. After sampling the pheasant, she said: “It’s very nice. It’s lovely.
“I grew up on a farm and my father used to always bring in pheasants for us to eat.
“But I never tried it once because of their beautiful colours.
“This is the first one I have ever tried. It’s fabulous.”