Maurice and Diana Scott, senior master and joint-master of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds (D&S), are retiring after almost half a lifetime of service.

The Scotts, who are both 69, decided to retire “while they could still keep up”, said Mrs Scott. She has been a master for 26 seasons, while her husband has served 32.

“We’re not as fit as we were 30 years ago and the time was right to call it a day,” she said.

“It’s been a huge privilege and an interesting experience — we’ve been masters through arguably some of the most difficult times for hunting.”

Mrs Scott — who bred Ginny Elliot’s Olympic medallist Priceless — is still involved in the running of the family’s Brendon Hill Stud in Watchet, Somerset.

Both she and Maurice will continue to hunt.

“It would break my heart not to ride across Exmoor.

“But perhaps we won’t continue at quite the same pace,” said Mrs Scott.

Their last meet as masters will be on Saturday, 27 April.

“They have held the staghounds together for such a long time and will be greatly missed,” said Janet Ackner, senior joint hon secretary.

“It isn’t until someone leaves that you realise quite how much they have done.”

John Arnold, who has been field master of the D&S for 14 years, is also retiring, as is joint-master Francesca Bell after six seasons.

Joint-master Rupert Andrews will be joined by David Greenwood and Loveday Miller next season.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (4 April 2013)