Over a quarter of a million people turned out to attend Boxing Day meets across the country

More than a quarter of a million people turned out to show their support for hunting at Boxing Day meets around the country yesterday (26 December), according to figures released by the Countryside Alliance (CA).

On one of the biggest days of the year for hunting, more than 300 packs in the UK held their traditional Boxing Day meets in towns, pubs or in areas where large numbers of people could congregate safely.

The Cottesmore Hunt’s annual meet that had been moved out of Oakham town centre due to health and safety concerns, proved to be “very well supported in the new venue of a large car park kindly provided by Rutland County Council.”

One of the largest turnouts of the day was for the Heythrop Hunt’s annual meet in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, where more than 6,000 people attended to see hounds in the Square.

The Glamorgan Hunt in south Wales saw people lining Cowbridge High Street as they left the meet to cheers and applause, scenes that were replicated across the country.

Pictured above is the Southdown and Eridge Hunt that met in Lewes, East Sussex (photograph courtesy of www.arwphotography.co.uk).

The Holcombe Harriers met in Anglezark, near Bolton, Lancs where over 100 people were mounted and in excess of 2,000 people supported on foot.

Joint-master Sue Simmons said: “We were delighted to be able to parade our hounds in this traditional meet on Boxing Day and for so many people to be there to show their appreciation of country sports.”

Although there were no cancellations due to frost or snow — as would usually be expected at this time of year — some meets were affected by above average rainfall and flooding that had taken place across the country.  

The Hunting Act 2004 came into force in February 2005 however the CA and the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) continue to fight for repeal of the Act.

A spokesperson for the CA told H&H: “The Hunting Act has failed — not one hunt has been prosecuted in the last year and more than 94% of those convicted under the Act have not been related to activities of registered hunts, they have been for poaching or casual hunting offences.”