Video/gallery/poll: Hundreds turn out to see Essex and Suffolk hunt gather in Hadleigh for annual Boxing Day meet
PUBLISHED: 16:52 26 December 2013 | UPDATED: 22:00 26 December 2013
Hundreds of people were drawn to a field in Hadleigh today to watch the traditional Boxing Day hunt.
The Essex and Suffolk Hunt gathered on land not far from Hadleigh United Football Club where they were joined by hundreds of spectators.
Over 20 riders of all ages mingled and chatted with the crowds for over an hour before riding off around 11.30.
Senior master of the Essex and Suffolk foxhounds James Buckle was pleased with the support shown for the hunt, as well as the continued interest in participating from younger generations.
Mr Buckle said: “On Boxing Day all of Hadleigh turn out, it’s lovely, very gratifying.
“If we turn up here and we’re on our own, then I’d worry about what we were doing but when we get this level of support I’m pretty relaxed about it.
“I’ve been master here for 20 years now and I’ve been hunting since I was a little kid.
“We’ve got the whole spectrum, the kids are always overtaking me, its lovely to see.
“There’s definitely an appetite for it. I don’t think you’ll find anyone who’s in any doubt that we’re going to continue.”
His sentiments were echoed by the hunt’s terrier man Rob Cundy who’s been involved in hunts for 20 years.
He said: “It’s (hunting) vitally important for the preservation of the countryside.
“Lots of lads and young people come out with us. We’re really well supported everywhere we go, it’s absolutely vital.”
Barry Thorpe, who had come to watch the hunt from Elmsett said it was a chance for friends to meet up during the festive period.
Mr Thorpe said: “It’s a social occasion. You bump into people who’ve come out after Christmas, get some fresh air into your lungs.
“It’s a traditional part of country life and I don’t see why anyone would want to change it.
“I think it’s important to carry on the tradition. Look at the turn out here today in support of it all. I think it’s good.”
The Countryside Alliance said more than a quarter of a million people turned out at Boxing Day hunts with some meets attracting over 5,000.
Capt Ian Farquhar, joint master of the Duke of Beaufort’s hunt at Worcester Lodge in Didmarton, Gloucestershire, said: “Once again we were delighted by the tremendous support from the thousands of people who turned out to show their support for the hounds and horses and to support the farmers who are the backbone of the countryside.
“We met in the hope that common sense will prevail.”
Waveney Harriers also held a hunt in Bungay and crowds lining Earsham Street were three deep in what was described as one of the most impressive turnouts in years.