Countryside Alliance’s Head of Hunting Polly Portwin writes:
Around a quarter of a million people are expected to turn out to greet hounds on Boxing Day, either to follow them on a horse, on foot, in a car, or simply just to watch the spectacle for a few minutes during the meet in a local town centre. With around 250 packs meeting in all corners of the country, those across the generations will come together on Boxing Day to celebrate their communities and their hunts.
Every year vast numbers of people – many of whom only get the pleasure of encountering their local hunt on this festive occasion – look forward to this important part of their annual Christmas festivities. Families and friends unite in the fresh air while cheering the hounds on as they leave the meet and watch the mounted followers ride through crowd-lined streets as they head to the first draw.
Hunting continues to flourish and remain as popular as ever so it is unsurprising that the animal rights lobby are frustrated about its continued success. In their latest campaign to attack hunts, pressure is being applied to virtually every organisation that welcomes hounds on their land, with social media being used as a tool to spread mis-information about hunting activities.
Local councils that allow packs to meet on land they own or manage are the latest targets, with the meet at Grantham – host to the Belvoir Hunt on Boxing Day – coming under fire, and even local councillors receiving personal threats via social media. In 2017 the Grove and Rufford were forced to move their meet out of Bawtry Town Square but it is testament to the strength of feeling felt in that area that the meet returns to the town this Boxing Day.
Tetbury Council may have succumbed to this pressure by refusing to allow hounds to meet in the Old Railway Yard on New Year’s Day, but it takes more than a handful of extremists with their own agenda to thwart the plans of those passionate about hunting. We are delighted that the Beaufort have found an alternative venue in Tetbury to enable them to meet and present a substantial cheque to Tetbury Hospital while allowing the large crowd an opportunity to support their local pack.
Last week we launched an e-lobby campaign in which we invited those who enjoy attending Boxing Day meets to send a letter to their local councillor to express support for meets continuing in the heart of communities. If you haven’t already signed our e-lobby, please visit our website here and send your local councillor a letter today.
If you are away visiting family and friends but still want to know where to find a meet on Boxing Day, please visit our interactive map for more information.
Whichever pack you follow and however you enjoy following those hounds, we look forward to reporting on another well-supported Boxing Day and sharing your images throughout the festive season.
Head of Hunting
Follow me at @hunting_ca