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New masters gather ahead of start of season

New masters of hounds from hunts across the country gathered at Stratford Racecourse on Saturday 20 April to learn more about the role they have taken on with effect from 1 May 2024.

The annual new masters’ course organised by the British Hound Sports Association (BHSA) included input from the Countryside Alliance in relation to the importance of positive public relations and the political implications for trail hunting in the event of a hostile government coming into power after the general election.

Seven speakers with a variety of professional expertise offered guidance and advice to those taking on a new position at the start of the new 2024/25 season. Around 60 representatives from hunts across the country were present to listen to presentations ranging from legal advice, to running a hunt country and hunt finances, to media relations.

Andrew Osborne, a former master and huntsman and the current vice-chairman of the BHSA, opened the meeting, welcoming those attending and thanking them for taking on such an important role. He explained that masters are collectively responsible for their hunts and of the importance of hunts maintaining high standards at all times whilst also emphasising how rewarding – and fun – the role can be.

Polly Portwin, Director of the Campaign for Hunting at the Countryside Alliance was pleased to offer her advice to those attending:

“The Alliance used this opportunity to discuss hunting’s relevance in modern society, explaining the importance of retaining a social licence to operate and offering guidance about how to utilise social media to demonstrate how hunts are conducting a lawful, recreational pursuit that does not require further legislation by any future government.”

Olly Hughes, managing director of the BHSA said:

“We were delighted to host this annual meeting which offers those embracing their new roles the chance to ask questions and obtain a greater understanding of what their position entails ahead of the start of the season. The BHSA offers year-round support to hunts and this meeting was a part of our overall training strategy.”

Attendees were given the chance to ask questions about their future role and also received copies of the presentations that were given throughout the day.


Image credit: Hattie Austin Photography

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