As the trial date draws near for the eight hunt protestors who stormed the House of Commons last September, a cartoon and a silver wristband have been produced to help raise money for their legal fees.
The Westminster Eight Andrew Elliot, David Redvers, Luke Tomlinson, Otis Ferry, Robert Thame, John Holliday, Richard Wakeham and Nick Wood will appear on 23 May at Bow Street Magistrates Court, charged with public order offences.
The Countryside Alliance has contributed to the groups legal fees to date, but these will mount during the trial at which MPs who were present in the House of Commons last September may give evidence.
A limited edition copy of the cartoon by sporting artist Tod Ramos will be sent to anyone who donates to the Westminster Eight Fighting Fund. Donors of £50 or more will receive a copy signed by all eight defendants.
The idea for the cartoon was born at a dinner to mark the 56th anniversary of the Piccadilly hunt at Stratford Racecourse which the Westminster Eight attended. In 1949 the Piccadilly hunt rode through London in protest at an anti-hunting Bill, and were afterwards welcomed at the Horse & Hound Ball on Park Lane.
People asked us to sign menus at the Stratford dinner and the hunt was keen to help with our fees but realised it was quite a lot more than it could pay, explained Andrew Elliot.
To donate to the cause, send cheques payable to Westminster Eight Fighting Fund c/o Laurels Cottage, Bromesberrow, Ledbury, Herefordshire HR8 1RT.
A silver wristband, which is imprinted with the words FIGHT THE BAN, is the brain child of Tim Kitney, who runs the gift website www.tjklondon.com.
The first month’s proceeds from these bangles, which cost £25 each, will go towards the legal fees of the Westminster Eight. Next month the proceeds are likely to be donated to a different cause, which is also trying to bring about a repeal of the ban.
Otis Ferry said that he was thrilled how much people are rallying round: “It just goes to show how the rural community is so bonded, that at times like this, everyone just comes together and supports each other,” he said.
“There is such pressure on so many people at this time – people are fighting for their livelihoods – and fundraising like this is crucial to the survival of hunting, and everything associated with it. I think it’s fantastic, and the guys are doing a wonderful job.”