Gallery: Supporters of Suffolk’s hunts turn out in their hundreds to watch events in Hadleigh and Hawstead on Boxing Day

Spectators gathered for the annual Boxing Day hunt in Hadleigh.

Spectators gathered for the annual Boxing Day hunt in Hadleigh. - Credit: Archant

Hunt masters across Suffolk have said the support for their sports is still strong despite the hunting ban.

Yesterday marked the tenth Boxing Day hunt since the practice was banned by Hunting Act but hundreds of people still turned out in Hadleigh and Hawstead, near Bury St Edmunds, to watch the hunts set off.

Master of the Essex and Suffolk Hunt James Buckle, speaking to the assembled crowd before the hunt began, thanked the staff who had put the event together.

He also said the number of supporters who turn out to watch the hunt each year reassured him there was still an appetite for the sport.

“I think it’s absolutely amazing,” Mr Buckle said. “If I was standing up here on my own I would be thinking that maybe someone had got a point.

“But you can’t get this level of support and it not be something that needs to continue.

“It’s so interwoven in the whole of rural life, it’s just a fantastic tradition.

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“I find it difficult to explain quite why I am so passionate about it because there are so many facets of it that I love.

“It is all absolutely what I think typifies the countryside and rural life.”

Mr Buckle also criticised Douglas Carswell, Clacton’s UKIP MP, for seeming to change his stance on the ban.

“I am quite speechless. I’ve been sitting there talking to him in his office in Harwich and he has been assuring me he never wanted to make it a major plank of his manifesto but it was always something he supported and it was never an issue.

“I suppose if someone can’t work out which party he’s going to stand for you cant really expect him to work out which of their policies he may or may not want.”

Christopher Minter, joint master of the Suffolk Hunt, claimed the practice was not understood by those living in towns and that all round the year, negativity was very uncommon in the county.

The 48-year-old said: “We have lots of people here attending, it is great to get out on Boxing Day and blow away those Christmas cobwebs.

“The people living in towns do not understand the countryside, they have this view of what fox hunting is and they have it completely wrong.

“I think Suffolk is supportive of fox hunting, we never get negativity all year round. People like to see us out and give us waves and smiles.

“We have a lot of people here today, not just in the hunt but the foot followers who have come to watch.”

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