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‘A great start to married life’: hunt supporters follow church ceremony with champagne meet

A couple celebrated their wedding day in unusual style when they combined their reception with a “champagne meet” of the South Dorset hunt.

Hennie Helliwell and Danno Turk had organised a small, private ceremony in a clifftop church in Holworth, Dorset on 28 December, when they realised that there was plenty of time afterwards to fit in some hunting.

“We have lots of nieces and nephews under five, so we had to have an early morning wedding,” said Hennie.

“As we were planning, we realised we would be finished by 9.30am, so we had a last-minute idea to combine it with a meet. I grew up hunting with the South Dorset, so we contacted Toby Coles and the other masters and they kindly let us have a champagne meet reception.”

A couple of days before the wedding, disaster struck when the hounds were unwell but the South Dorset was still able to hold the meet, which became a hunt ride.

“We got to ride out with Toby and were jumping some quite big fences — things seemed to get bigger and bigger after we had had the champagne,” said Hennie, who has been hunting with the South Dorset since she was 13, and thanked the masters for putting the ride on. “We finished after a couple of hours and then got to unwind in our B&B.”

“It was a great way to start married life,” she added. “We both worked Christmas and New Year’s Day, so it was really special for us.”

Hennie and Danno struggled to both get time off for a big ceremony, so also plan to have a full-scale white wedding in May.

The couple met in London but now both work in the southwest and although they used “fantastic” hirelings provided by Emma Harris for their wedding-day ride, they both have their own horses, a former racehorse and a former high-goal polo pony.

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While they compete in some local shows, Hennie said they like to use their limited spare time to go on riding holidays.

“We like to unwind with the horses on our days off,” she said. “We like to box them up and go away for a week at a time somewhere. We’re going to Exmoor next and we also recently did an unguided riding holiday through the Pyrenees.”

“It’s great to have a shared interest,” she added. “Danno is very proficient at mucking out and exercising!”

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