VAGSB renamed the Kimblewick hunt in bid to heal rifts

  • The Vale of Aylesbury with Garth and South Berks hunt (VAGSB) has been renamed the Kimblewick, as part of crisis management talks brokered by the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA).

    But the move has failed to appease all the warring factions within the hunt, which has the largest country in England and was formed through the amalgamation of five former packs.

    At a meeting on 19 August, the new name was chosen and a new constitution for the hunt agreed. This requires the disbanding of the four hunt clubs, two supporters clubs and a farmers’ club, to create one supporters’ club.

    But old loyalties still remain in the hunt, which became the VAGSB eight years ago.

    And some people allied to the old GSB feel they have been poorly treated by the deal, which they say favours the Vale of Aylesbury country.

    Former GSB joint-master Nolan Best said: “A lot of people are not happy to say the least.They feel the same issues remain and a change of name is not going to solve that.”

    According to an MFHA report, the association stepped in to assist in March after a “serious breakdown of trust within the mastership”.

    There were also claims by GSB supporters that finances were not dealt with in accordance with the hunt’s constitution and anger that areas of GSB country were not being hunted.

    This led, says the MFHA, to “an effective split between the two halves of the country”.

    Vitriolic dispute

    MFHA director Alastair Jackson said: “Under the hunt constitution, any dispute has to be referred to the MFHA and things had become rather vitriolic and personal.

    “But our recommendations were unanimously accepted at the meeting and it will run as one hunt at last with a central hunt committee.

    “There will be grumbles — there always are — but the vote was totally above board, so this is an end to the dispute.”

    Supporters’ clubs wound up

    However, H&H has spoken to a number of disgruntled members in the former GSB area.

    One who did not want to be named said: “The changes have been made in an underhand manner — the same way the Garth has been treated since we amalgamated.

    “They are forcing us to close our supporters’ club, but there is no way we can fund-raise under the new name in GSB country — no one will know who we are!”

    And another said: “It’s a mess — the hunt seems to revolve around money and power and that’s all positioned in the Vale end of the country.

    “We have held a meeting among ourselves and we are not going to take this — there is going to be a tremendous dogfight.”

    But Kimblewick senior joint-master Guy Portwin said: “We have drawn a line under our differences and moved on now.

    “With four supporters’ clubs we had as many people on hunt committees as subscribers.

    “We just want to move on now and have a good season. We’re very popular — 3,600 people hunted with us last season — and everyone is welcome.”

    This article was first published in Horse & Hound (2 September, ’10)

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