John Holliday: Still the status quo in the Shires *H&H VIP*

Opinion

It transpired that the smoke above Oakham was black — there will be no Quorn and Cottesmore merger in the immediate future. After much debate and a narrow vote, the status quo remains.

While a replacement for Peter Collins at the Quorn has yet to be appointed, it is good news that the present kennel-huntsman at the Cottesmore, Chris Edwards, will carry the horn next season. He was raised within a good golf shot of Belvoir Castle and is a former Belvoir whipper-in, so we watch his progress with keen interest and whole-hearted support.

Utter nonsense

There has been a rather underhanded effort running to stop many traditional Boxing Day meets. Grantham town council has not escaped this deceitful campaign. The Conservative mayor caved under the pressure of vicious online abuse and declined to entertain the Belvoir at the traditional Guildhall Boxing Day meet — citing, of course, “health and safety” as the excuse.

This happened at the 11th hour and gave little time to make alternative arrangements. The hunt has met in Grantham since the early 1800s, and at the Guildhall since 1893. Aside from the 125-year tradition, one might imagine that the sight of hounds, horses and scattered scarlet would provide some welcome distraction in a town blighted by empty shops.

Following a huge logistical effort, the meet went ahead close to the Guildhall at The Paddocks, and received, if anything, more support than ever. It would have been contemptible for old and young alike, who have loyally turned out for years, had they been deprived of such a spectacle by a few keyboard warriors and spineless politicians.

With such a bold turnout of the faithful, a handful of placard-bearing objectors looked sadly alone and alienated. It subsequently proved to be the case that few were from Grantham; most were bussed in for the occasion.

A seaside visit

We were recently invited to follow in the footsteps of Parson Milne and Henry Higginson and hunt the Cattistock country. The Jurassic coast provided a dramatic backdrop to the meet at the Abbotsbury Swannery.

Many subscribers made the long journey south, where heavy showers did nothing to dampen spirits, and a good, busy day was followed by a long and convivial evening organised by our generous hosts.

Into the new year and across the River Smite, the Quorn will by now have decided on new masters and soon a new huntsman. A certain amount of reorganisation may be needed and some will be disappointed that things haven’t gone their way, but the Quorn remains the most famous pack in the world: what is good for them is good for all of hunting. It behoves all ranks of the Quorn to unite behind the appointments.

In the meantime, Peter Collins approaches his closing months after 42 years in hunt service; with hard work and determination he rose through the ranks before his final move to Quorn in 2002. We hope that all those who have enjoyed the sport he has provided will ensure that his hard work and loyalty is suitably rewarded.

Testimonial events are no doubt underway — flowers have their place, but nothing says “thank you” like the crackle of a treasury note. Happy New Year.

Ref Horse & Hound; 10 January 2019

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