Peter Daresbury, chairman of the Master of Foxhounds Association, has been joint-master of Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn’s for nine years.
His experience as chairman of Aintree racecourse and in running his family’s recreational businesses greatly assist him in having a wide and a realistic view of the best ways to defeat the threats facing foxhunting.
“I have been quoted as being against wearing red coats in the hunting field. I am not in favour of a ban on red coats… but I am in favour of hunts encouraging members of the mounted field to adopt a lower profile by wearing black coats instead of red.
“Hunting is not an elitist sport; it involves people from all walks of life and wearing top hats and cut-away coats in the 21st century does give a misleading image of the sport. In the modern world, image is important. Unfortunately, we are often attacked as simply being a ‘bunch of toffs’, when the truth is that we are very inclusive.”
He points out: “Trulyrural areas of Britain are continuing to shrink. It means that hunting does sometimes take place in areas too close to large conurbations, which increases the risk of friction with urban-based people who do not understand the countryside. We haveto work to a strategy where we withdraw from areas unsuitable for hunting with hounds, and that will mean more boundary changes and the merger of some hunts.
“We are encouraging hunts to embrace their local communities.It is very important thatwe keep local people in touch with what we are doing and endeavour to contribute even more to local projects and good causes.”
Is Lord Daresbury optimistic about the future of his sport? “Of course I am. We have the truth on our side. It is up to us to work together to make sure that a great injustice is not done to the British countryside and to everyone to whom hunting means so much. We have to win, and we shall.”
See page 52, Horse and Hound magazine, issue date 26 October, for the complete interview.