David Burles, master and chairman: “The farmers want us to continue as a hunt. Our services extend from fox control to fallen stock and the farmers have encouraged us to hold a fairly sizeable meet this Saturday. We’ve changed the meet from the scheduled lawn meet to a more high-profile one on Gelligaer Common and the farmers will put a drag on for us. We’ve changed our memorandum and we’re now a limited company. As to the future, we’ll just have to see how it goes. The funds are still coming in, so we don’t have to worry about laying off staff immediately. Nobody wants to put someone out of work. We haven’t many more meets this season, so we’ll complete our calendar and then see what the powers that be do.”
Michael Allen, joint-master: “We’re going to carry on meeting, keeping within the law, for our hounds’ sake. On 19 February, we’ll hold a meet in the middle of our country. We’ll carry on until mid-March, but we may go down just to Saturdays. We’ll do a combination of legal things.
“We’ve just sent letters to all our farmers to ask permission to hunt legally and the response has been remarkably good. I’m the amateur huntsman and master; other than that, we only have a part-time man who does feeding and so on, so there won’t be any redundancies.”
Frank Hall, joint-master: “From 18 February, we shall be hunting within the guidelines. There are no special plans for 19 February, but there is a possibility that we’ll hold a joint meet with a neighbouring pack on that day. We won’t be making any cutbacks with the staff or hounds.”
Dai Owen, joint-master: “We’re ready to make arrangements, but it seems to be a last-minute job. We’ll hang on to hounds, follow some sort of trail and see what happens. We hope to carry on until our usual end of season in mid-March. We haven’t had to let staff go.”
Robert Tomkinson, chairman: “On 19 February we’re meeting and taking a photograph of everybody, then we’re officially hound exercising. Our season finishes two weeks later and we’ll meet twice a week for those weeks. We’re still working on what we’ll do next season.
“We have very extensive Forestry Commission country — we’ve been hunting the woods for 300 years — and this makes life quite tricky. Other landowners are very much welcoming us. We haven’t made final decisions on hunt staff.”
Betty Thomas, chairman: “19 February is the last day of our season anyway because there’s extensive lambing in our area. But we’ll meet on parkland belonging to one of our joint-masters, in a prominent place near the A48, in our red coats, and do something legal. We’re expecting a large field and will advertise that we’re meeting within the law after the ban.
“Our whipper-in wished to move on anyway and applied for and obtained a post in America before the ban came in. Our huntsman will have to have casual help so that he can have his days off.”
Chris Davies, joint-master: “We’re meeting on the 19th but we’ll stop then due to lambing. But we shall be out fighting next season and will try all legal aspects of hunting. Our farmers want us to carry on — it would create a real void around here if we stopped.”
GROVE & RUFFORD
David Brown, chairman: “We’ll have a big show of strength on 19 February, then five more meets until our end of season, which is governed by what farmers are doing and will be about the same time as usual. We’re going to hunt within the law.
“When all this nonsense began, the first thing the committee did was employ hunt staff until May 2006. It amazed us at meetings that some huntsmen were not secure [in their jobs] and didn’t know where they stood.”
HHTom Floyd, joint-master: “We’ll continue until 19 March, undertaking legal hunting activities twice a week. Our huntsman, Bob Collins, retires at the end of this season and the first whipper-in will stay with us to hunt hounds, but we’ll probably be getting someone in to fill his old job.”
Phillip Blackman Howard, joint-master: “We’re holding a mounted rally on the edge of Hereford on 19 February. We’ll continue with our meet card and do whatever we can within the law. The hunt staff is staying the same for the foreseeable future.”
Mal Williams, joint-master: “We’ll continue to take hounds out and pursue legal activities and fund-raising. At present, the hunt’s infrastructure will remain the same.”
Carole Bassett, joint-master: “We’re going to start trailhunting and are hosting a big meet on 19 February. The ban has forced us to make one redundancy; our kennel-huntsman is leaving on 1 May. We haven’t yet made any decision about the hunt horses but if necessary they’ll go to good homes.”
IRFON AND TOWY
Erfyl Protheroe, chairman: “We’ve agreed to meet on 19 February and then the following Saturday, which is the end of our season. We haven’t discussed next season yet.”
ISLE OF WIGHTAndrew Sallis, joint-master: “After 18 February, the Isle of Wight Foxhounds will be meeting in its normal finery and we’ll be trying some of the legal alternatives to ridicule the legislation. We’ll carry on providing a service to farmers and gamekeepers. On 19 February we’re hoping to host the largest meet ever seen on the Isle of Wight.
“We hunt over a lot of National Trust and Forestry Commission land. The hunt’s horses are all mine and the infrastructure of the hunt will remain as intact as possible.”
EAST KENTMr Potter, joint-master: “We’re holding the biggest party ever on the 19 February at Crundall. There’ll be a jazz band, a BBQ and, hopefully, 1,000 people.”
Nicholas Kelly, hon sec: “Post-18 February, the Lamerton will continue to meet, but all its activities will be within the constraints of the law. We’ll be trailhunting every Saturday with the occasional bye day until the last day of the season on Easter Monday. The meets will be by invitation for members and subscribers.
“The hunt plans to maintain other things as they are. We’ll continue the flesh collection service, so we need our full-time staff to collect the fallen stock. On 19 February we’re holding an open meet to which everyone is welcome for some trailhunting.”
Archie Smith Maxwell, president: “We’ve arranged a special meeting on the 19th at Hurst Farm, Castlemorton. Afterwards, we’ll hack hounds back to the boxes. We are expecting an enormous turnout for our fixture on the previous Thursday, which will be our last proper meet.
“We’re talking of meeting up to six days a week to give the hounds exercise. I don’t know how much trailhunting will happen. It takes time to adapt; it’s like asking a horse to run at Cheltenham one week and do a dressage competition the next.
“We aim to keep 20 couple of hounds, the nucleus of the pack, but this will mean quite a severe cull. But we will be able to offer kennels for another hunt. Currently, we’re without a master for next season, but I’m hopeful that a group of young people will come forward to take it on. The hunt is also hoping to reopen its flesh house and will apply to DEFRA for a licence.”
Alan Bell, master: “We’re meeting at Cartmel racecourse on 19 February at 10am. Hounds will parade in the parade ring and there’ll be some speeches. Our local MP, Tim Collins, will be attending this meet. We will host a coffee morning, raffle and collection before hounds are taken back. We’ll finish the season about a month early. We have no fixed plans, but we’ll wait until the political situation is clearer — after the general election.”
Elfan Bell: joint-master: “We’re meeting on 19 February, although the meet is different from our meet card. We’re returning to our Boxing Day fixture, in the centre of Llandeilo, and going for a long ride. There are six packs meeting within the Llandeilo area on that day and there’ll only be two police officers on duty. We’re also holding an extraordinary general meeting at the meet to change our constitution.
“We have one more scheduled meet remaining this season and will go out on legitimate business. We’ll then be on call with two hounds and a shotgun during lambing. We’re not laying off staff and will retain all our hounds. We’ll wait to see how practical trailhunting is in our country.”
Arthur Board, joint-master: “We’re yet to decide our future plans and what the hunt will do on 19 February. But it’s likely we’ll stay the same, more or less. We’ve been appointed collectors of fallen stock by DEFRA.”
LLANWNNEN & DISTRICT FARMERS
Thomas Evans, joint-master: “We’re meeting on 19 February as usual. We’re not going to break the law and it does look like we may have to lay off some hunt staff. I’ve been a whipper-in for 40 years and a joint-master for 10, and everything has been taken from us. I cannot afford to lose lambs every night — which is what will happen after the ban — and there’s more cruelty involved with snaring and poisoning than hunting.”
Capt Rupert Inglesant, joint-master and huntsman: “The Ludlow will fulfil all its hunt commitments and is meeting at Hillocks Farm on 19 February as per the meet card. Our whipper-in is leaving to join the Worcestershire at the end of the season [30 April] and we don’t yet know whether we will replace him.”
Malcolm Robinson, joint-master:“We are definitely meeting on 19 February and are expecting a large turnout. We’ll be walking down the road and exercising the hounds. We’ll be keeping the staff on for at least 12 months; we can’t pack up just like that.”