The Devon and Somerset Staghounds held a meet to raise funds for the Willberry Wonder Pony charity on Saturday, 27 August at Mounsey Hill Gate on Exmoor.

The charity raises funds to support research into bone cancer and to grant equine-related wishes to seriously ill people and their families. It was set up by cancer sufferer Hannah Francis who lost her battle in August this year.

The idea for the hunt to get involved in raising funds for the charity was that of Fiona Rawle, Alex Batstone and Sharon Routley who are all on the hunt’s supporters’ club committee.

“We felt that it was a good opportunity for the hunting community to get involved in raising money for this great cause,” explained eventer Fiona, who competed the next day at Treborough Hill.

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“The story of Hannah Francis is very well known in the eventing world particularly but it is wonderful to be able to extend this into another equestrian discipline to raise awareness.”

“A large mounted field was in attendance along with a vast crowd of foot followers with the cap for the day being put towards the total raised, which is likely to exceed £1,000,” revealed Sharon Routley.

For part of the day both Donald Summersgill — the pack’s huntsman — and joint-master David Greenwood carried one of the charity’s Willberry mascots. The soft toy — adorned with a knitted green scarf — was loaned to the hunt for the special day by Jayne Smart, who was Hannah’s trainer.


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“Members of the hunt really got behind the initiative with many purchasing Willberry merchandise, wearing the t-shirts and some even had their horses quarter-marked with the Willberry mascot so there was a wonderful atmosphere on the day,” said Sharon, who added that the hunt has plans to organise further fundraising events for the same cause.

To donate to the charity, click here.