The rider who died while following the Fernie hounds last week has been named as William Graham, a father of three and a “true gentleman”.

The 54-year-old fell from his horse as he jumped a fence between Saddington and Mowsley, Leicestershire, on 31 January.

Mr Graham, who was born in Scotland, leaves his wife Lucy, their nine-year-old daughter and two older children from a previous marriage.

Fernie joint-master Philip Cowen said: “Will’s tragic death has stunned and shocked us all.

“Sadly, he died when his horse fell on top of him at a fence which has been jumped on numerous occasions previously. There are no words to describe such a devastating loss particularly for his family, but also a great many other people in the locality who knew him so well. Our hearts and thoughts go out to them all at such a sad time.

“Will was a constant source of energy, passion, enthusiasm and determination in whatever he turned his hand to – whether in his line of business, when on the sports field or when relaxing at home. His loss to our community is immeasurable.”

Mr Cowen said that on Saturday (3 February) people connected with hunting in the county and from further afield “came together for a special day’s hunting dedicated to Will”.

“There is an incredible bond which runs throughout those who are involved with the hunt, whether as riders, followers or supporters and the moving tributes on that day will last long in all our memories,” he added. “Will was a true gentleman and we all owe him so much for a life which has been cut short far too soon.”

Mr Graham was a “very competent” rider who had followed the Fernie hounds for some 15 years.

“Sadly Will lost his life whilst enjoying a sport that he loved, and to which he has been a huge contributor both directly and behind the scenes for many years,” said Mr Cowen’s fellow joint-master Chris Parker. “He was clearly enjoying himself on the day in question right up to the moment that this dreadful accident occurred.

“Words do not adequately convey our emotions, or the degree of sympathy we all feel for his wife, daughter and their wider family.

“He will be greatly missed by all his friends in not only the hunting world, but from many other aspects of life as well. He was also a hugely successful businessman, and he particularly enjoyed both skiing and sailing.”

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Polly Portwin of the Countryside Alliance said: “We were sorry to learn of the tragic events of last Wednesday. Will was a great supporter and representative of the alliance and we extend our deepest sympathies to Lucy, their family and all those closest to them.”

The hunt asked for Mr Graham’s family’s privacy, as well as its own, to be respected as both “come to terms with the accident, and such a devastating loss”.

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